Have you ever wondered why bears hibernate? Take a brief look into the world of animals in this article.
If you’re not a winter person you may consider bears to be fortunate since they can sleep the cold, winter months way in cozy slumber. I’m definitely not a winter person and hibernation does have a certain appeal nevertheless it’s not an option for us humans.
So why do bears hibernate during the winter months? Animals have built in survival instincts, as do humans. Some animals have a coat the blends in with their natural surroundings. The chameleon changes its appearance to blend into its surroundings. Most animals have sharpened senses such as a keen sense of smell, hearing or enhanced vision. These senses aid the animals in hunting prey and also in protecting themselves from predators.
It seems that all creatures including humans are imbued with the survival instinct we refer to as the fight or flight response. It is a natural protective instinct. You’re probably wondering what all of this has to do with bears hibernating in the wintertime. Well, it’s simple really. Hibernation is one type of built in survival mechanisms. Bears are not the only mammals that hibernate. There are others such as skunks and bats but when we hear the word hibernation, it is the bear that first comes to mind.
One reason bears hibernate in the winter is due to their diet. They exist mainly on vegetation, fish, berries and insects. These food sources are less available during the winter months. To correct this problem, bears consume large amounts of food during the warmer months, as their bodies will store fat for the coming hibernation period. This helps nourish the animals for the duration of winter slumber.
What happens when bears hibernate? In hibernation the heart rate drops and oxygen intake decreases. It’s difficult to imagine but there is no urination or defecation during the hibernation period.
Imagine what it would be like if humans hibernated. We would all awake a little slimmer, probably happier and stress free due to the extended rest period and hungry as a bear. There would also be a very long line outside the bathroom door.