Hibernation is a state of inactivity and metabolic depression in animals, characterized by lower body temperature, slower breathing, and lower metabolic rate. Hibernating animals conserve food, especially during winter when food supplies are limited, tapping energy reserves, body fat, at a slow rate. It is the animal's slowed metabolic rate which leads to a reduction in body temperature and not the other way around.
Hibernation may last several days or weeks depending on species, ambient temperature, time of year, and fur on the animal's body. The typical winter season for a hibernator is characterized by periods of hibernation interrupted by sporadic euthermic arousals wherein body temperature is restored to typical levels. There is a hypothesis that hibernators build a need for sleep during hibernation more slowly than normally, and must occasionally warm up in order to sleep. This has been supported by some evidence in the arctic ground squirrel.
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