Some Animals Don't Actually Sleep for the Winter, and Other Surprises About Hibernation

It isn't just groundhogs—find out which animals hibernate and why.

For people who aren't fans of winter, animals that hibernate seem to have the right idea: It's the equivalent of burying your head under the covers until spring comes—isn't it? Not quite. Read on for more behind the science of hibernation.

Despite what you may have heard, species that hibernate don’t “sleep” during the winter.

Hibernation is an extended form of torpor, a state where metabolism is depressed to less than five percent of normal. “Most of the physiological functions are extremely slowed down or completely halted,” says Marina Blanco, a postdoctoral associate at the Duke Lemur Center in Durham, North Carolina, who studies the dwarf lemurs (Cheirogaleus spp.) of Madagascar—the only primates that hibernate on a regular schedule.

For example, when

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