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Hibernate vs. Dormant

January 1, 2018

Over the years we’ve noticed a controversy brewing as to whether bears actually hibernate or, as rumor has it, go dormant.  After much research, we’re here to set the record straight:




When animals hibernate, they enter a state of inactivity where their heart rate drops, breathing slows down, and body temperature lowers to the same as the surrounding air.  This is what bears do.  The debate began, however, because bears experience just a slight decline in body temperature compared to smaller animals.  Scientifically speaking though, what defines hibernation is not the degree of temperature reduction, but rather the metabolic suppression.  Adult bears can lower their metabolic rate by about 75% basal rates, which classifies them as hibernators.


So, next time someone says, “bears don’t hibernate,” just explain that the bears’ metabolic basal rates state elsewise.


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