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What is hibernation?

Winter is very cold. There is snow and ice on the ground. We live in warm houses. What do animals do?

The biggest problem for most animals is finding enough food. So, some animals sleep all winter! It is a very deep sleep called hibernation. They need little or no food and hibernation allows them to conserve energy. Bears and chipmunks hibernate! So do frogs, snakes and even some bugs.

Most hibernators prepare in some way for the winter. Some store food in their burrows or dens, to eat when they awake for short periods. Many eat extra food in the fall while it is plentiful. It is stored as body fat to be used later for energy. Hibernators have two kinds of fat: regular white fat and a special brown fat. The brown fat forms patches near the animal's brain, heart and lungs. It sends a quick burst of energy to warm these organs first when it is time to wake up.

Click HERE to download this activity as a printable PDF.

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