As the dark days draw in and temperatures begin to drop, many of our favorite species will be collecting fat reserves to survive the coming months, or else preparing to hibernate and avoid the harshest weather.
So, what actually happens during hibernation?
Hibernation is where some animals enter a state of almost total inactivity during the winter months. They do this by slowing their heart rate to be up to 10x slower, and lowering their body temperature too. They also lower their metabolism so they don't waste vital nutrients needed to maintain their bodies throughout the winter.
All this means that they’re able to survive for long periods without eating, although they can occasionally wake up for short bursts – on milder days - to look for extra food and go to the toilet. Their bodies have also adapted to wake them up from their dormant hibernating state if they are in danger of freezing due to drastic temperature drops – a useful survival tactic indeed!
Surprisingly, the only animals that truly hibernate in the UK are hedgehogs, dormice and bats. Other species, such as badgers, just enter a period of lower inactivity instead. People just assume these species have hibernated because they are much less likely to be spotted.