Most animals in our area will either hibernate or enter torpor for the Winter. While these are similar biological responses to the frigid Winters, there are some differences. This article will discuss the differences.
Voluntary or Not
Hibernation is a process where the animal chooses to sleep through the coldest temperatures and does little beyond stored food when not asleep. Generally, a hibernating animal will rest throughout most of the Winter and will spend the majority of its time sleeping. Torpor, on the other hand, is an involuntary act. It is a physiological short-term effect where the animal’s metabolism slows and it passes out. This can occur for about a day or just mere hours. Torpor allows animals to shut down and survive the harshest temperatures or most frigid weather conditions as they occur.
Animals that Hibernate
Many animals in our area experience hibernation in the Winter. This includes squirrels, chipmunks, frogs, groundhogs, snakes, and hedgehogs.
Animals that Experience Torpor
Raccoons and opossums experience torpor, but they are not the only animals that experience this effect. Some bat species, mice and rats, some birds, and skunks experience torpor as well.