You Are Getting Verrrrrrry Sleeeeeeeeepy...
Friday, November 20, 2009 | Author: eventer79
Friday Fun Fact!

There still a few bronze leaves twirling to the ground in the wind outside my window. But the chill in the air leaves no doubt: it is time to gorge myself, curl up in a warm dark hole, and sleep till spring like Lil' Ms Dormouse on the right.

Winter makes food and water deathly scarce for wildlife the world over (plus it's just damn cold and no fun at all). In a rather miraculous feat of survival, many species opt to sleep it out, either in full hibernation or a lighter nap known as torpor.

True hibernation involves the near-shutting down of an animal's metabolism. Average mammalian body temp is around 99 degress, but they will drop it down to an average of 43 degrees. Heart rate can plummet to 10 beats per minute.

Some, like bears, den up alone and may even give birth to cubs without waking up (how about that for a relaxing childbirth experience?!). Others, like bats, snakes and ladybugs, will snuggle together in one giant spoon-fest to share collective body heat. So closely rationed are body resources that bats, for example, if awakened during winter in their hibernacular caves, can die as a result. The unexpected waking event will burn too much energy and they will run out of resources before spring and renewed food supplies arrive (spelunk quietly and with care in the winter and try to stay out of hibernaculars!).

A bear is often thought of as a classic hibernator, but in actuality, they practice torpor. Their body temperatures do not drop as low and they may rouse several times to track down a snack or two. Amphibians and reptiles are better examples of true hibernators -- they sleep solidly through the worst of the seasons, encased in a cave, den, or dried mud until seasonal cues coerce them slowly back to life (Noooooooooooo!).

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7 comments:

On November 20, 2009 at 2:29 PM , lifeshighway said...

What about spiders? What are they doing? Please do no tell me they practice group snuggling. I need to be able to sleep at night.

 
On November 21, 2009 at 12:51 AM , Frizzle said...

Ok, off-topic wildlife question. A few weeks ago, I saw a turtle scuttling across a road in my neighborhood. I live in a residential area and it's quite a trek to the nearest canal, so I opted to place him in my backyard. I have since learned that he is a red-eared slider and is native to our region. On occasion, I find this guy swimming around in my pool. I get very concerened because I'm afraid that he will not be able to make it out on his own. The pool has rounded tiles on the edges and the highest step is still pretty far from the top (well, for a little turtle). So, I always scoop him out with the pool-net. Are my concerns valid? Or will he be able to make it out of the pool on his own? Lol, yes, I'm such a tree-hugger.

 
On November 22, 2009 at 8:52 PM , eventer79 said...

Hold on, I'm still struggling with the thought of being in a place where R.E. Sliders are native, LOL.

He doesn't need to make it out of the pool, really, they are fully aquatic turtles. Of course, he won't find much to eat in there unless you don't mind throwing turtle chow or bugs in your pool. He probably won't be able to crawl out on tiles, but I would put a nice size rounded rock on the top step so he can use it as a stool to get out on his own so he can find food. I can't imagine the chlorine is doing him any favours, but no one ever said turtles were geniuses...

 
On November 23, 2009 at 12:50 AM , Frizzle said...

Hhhhhmmm, that rock thing might be a good idea. I do also have a teeny tiny "pond" (one of those black plastic pond thingies) that has water lillies in it. The frogs usually lay their eggs in there, too, so he could eat tadpoles. Would that be better for him? I would have to put a rock in there, too. Or should I release him into a canal? I figure at least he's not gonna be eaten by a gator in my backyard, but I also want him to have proper food. Maybe I should buy some turtle chow (?). I would like to keep him in my yard, as long as he has a proper environment and food.

 
On November 23, 2009 at 11:26 AM , eventer79 said...

I'd defintely put a rock in the pool anyway, you never know what kind of critters fall in there, I've seen drowned mice, squirrels, even birds.

The pond would be better for him, sliders are so plentiful, you don't really need to be feeding them. He'll be fine in the canal too -- gators would prefer a nice fish or a slow dog to a tooth crunching turtle.

 
On November 23, 2009 at 3:05 PM , Frizzle said...

Actually, our gators prefer lounging joggers!
If he stays here, I will probably feed him. Heck, I put food out for the stray cats -- might as well feed the "stray" turtle, as well. ;-) (Then again, he could earn his rent by eating bugs, which are plentiful year-round.)

 
On November 23, 2009 at 4:37 PM , emKem said...

Wow, very interesting. I think I need a torpor.