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Foster and Kreitzman - Seasons of Life - Hibernation



Type of Spiritual Experience


A description of the experience

Seasons of Life – Russell G Foster and Leon Kreitzman

Hibernation is somewhat different.  It usually refers to an adaptive winter physiology of sustained inactivity and metabolic depression, characterised by a profound lowering of body temperature, breathing and metabolic rate.  Body temperature falls, from around 38 degrees centigrade to as low as 1 degree centigrade above ambient temperature.  The heartbeat becomes slow and irregular.  Breathing may be once every four to six minutes, and a hibernator’s metabolic rate falls to as little as 1% of its normal value.

Entry into and exit from hibernation seems to be heavily dependent on a seasonal timer.  The terms obligate and facultative hibernators are sometimes used to distinguish between hibernation and winter torpor. 

The Arctic ground squirrel is an obligate hibernator.  It enters hibernation around 5-12 October and emerges between 20 and 22 April, regardless of the weather, because it is programmed by a timer to do so. 

Skunks and badgers are facultative hibernators, entering torpor in response to very cold weather and poor food supply. 

The North American pocket mouse is another facultative hibernator.

The source of the experience

Foster and Kreitzmann

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Science Items

Activities and commonsteps