Hibernation facts

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Hibernation facts

Post  The Hedgehog Lady on Tue Jan 12, 2010 2:29 pm

Hibernation is a complicated and perilous strategy. It is not just ‘going to sleep’. In sleep, all bodily functions remain nearly normal but in hibernation the metabolism is almost at a standstill. Like all other animals, hedgehogs need energy in order to maintain normal body activities. This energy comes from their food i.e. slugs, earthworms, beetles, caterpillars etc. As the weather gets colder such food becomes more difficult to find and so they slow down their use of energy.

Hibernation depends on the prevailing weather conditions and starts when the temperature becomes and remains low, which in Britain is usually November/December or even January. There also appears to be an internal readiness which brings about certain physiological changes.
The hedgehog will become immobile, the body cools and normal physiological activities are slowed down e.g. the heart rate decreases considerably from 190 beats per minute to a faint 20. The body temperature normally 35C drops to 10C and respiration almost stops.
Most hedgehogs wake up fairly frequently during hibernation but rarely leave the nest.
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