Nature Detective Week

Hibernation

Part of Nature Detective Week

Some animals hibernate during the Winter so you are unlikely to find any tracks for them.

Have a go at the BBC Hibernate or Hiber-Not? Quiz to see if you know which animals, birds and insects hibernate and which do not.

Why do you think some animals hibernate in Winter?

The main reason is that during the often wet and cold weather food is much harder to find for these smaller animals and their bodies would struggle to cope with the changes in temperature.

A way of them dealing with this is to hop into a nice cosy bed and sleep the Winter away! How lovely does that sound? Once tucked up in amongst some cosy leaves they will slow their heart rate and breathing and lower their body temperature. They may get up one or twice for a wee but otherwise that’s them till the weather warms up a bit.

There are quite a few wee animals that might be hibernating in your local park or garden. Hedgehogs for instance will be curled up under a woodpile or in the composter under the leaves. Maybe you have a hedgehog house in your garden - take a photo of ours.

Check this one out - it has lots of branches on top to disguise it and also provides some protection.

The doorway is clear to let the wee hedgehog in and out should it wish and there is clean water nearby. They can even go for a wee under the shed when they get up.

If you took the quiz - what animals can you remember will be hibernating?

A hedgehog? A dormouse? A bee? What about a mole?

It is often thought that moles hibernate but in fact they don’t! They just go a wee bit deeper underground to keep warm and they can still find earthworms and grubs to eat.

Look at the size of this molehill we found when out for our daily walk - it is enormous! We wondered how many moles are living in the house under this pile!

The other animal that we are often wondering if they hibernate or not is a squirrel. They don’t hibernate either but they will spend quite a bit of the Winter keeping warm in their drey (that’s a squirrel home). You will see them out and about as they move between their food stores that they have built up before the Winter weather arrives.

Did you build an insect hotel last year? If not see Making Your Own Bee or Insect Hotel (PDF) in Earth Week from last year.

If you did there are likely to be all manner of insects and butterflies hiding out there. What a great support for the insect population in your area by providing them safe shelter for the Winter, and your plants will be very pleased come spring when the wee beasties waken up and eat up all the annoying bugs that destroy the plants and flowers in your garden!

Remember not too disturb any of the animals that might be hibernating. If you have a log pile in your garden or see one in the park don’t be tempted to disturb it - there may be a sleepy hedgehog under there!

Look very carefully in sheds and garage window frames for ladybirds hibernating!

What about snails - do they hibernate and if so how do you think they do this?

Do some research and see what you can find out!

PS - for a clue it involves a lot of slime!

What can you find out about bees? Remember honey bees and bumble bees are quite different and maybe they behave differently during Winter? Let us know what you find out.

Don't forget to enter our competition with any photographs that you take!

Enter Competition

BBC Hibernate or Hiber-Not? Quiz
BBC Hibernate or Hiber-Not? Quiz
Making Your Own Bee or Insect Hotel PDF
Making Your Own Bee or Insect Hotel (PDF)
Hedgehog House (Select To Enlarge)
Huge Molehill
Huge Molehill (Select To Enlarge)
Harlequin ladybird winter aggregate (3014117486)
Harlequin Ladybird Winter Aggregate Select To Enlarge via Wikimedia Commons

This page is part of the Nature Detective Week information.

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