If you’ve had a pest problem during the spring, summer and/or fall, you’re likely looking forward to winter now.
Why? Because during the colder months, certain wildlife goes into hibernation.
Wondering what hibernation actually means and which animals will experience it this winter? Here are the ins and outs of hibernation – and what that means to your backyard pest problem.
What Does Hibernation Mean?
We as humans aren’t the only ones who sometimes have problems adjusting to the colder temperatures that winter brings! Although many animals can adapt to winter’s frigid temperatures, others migrate or hibernate.
The process of hibernation is much more complicated than simply going to sleep for a few weeks. And not all animals hibernate in the same manner! The state of hibernation can fluctuate as well as the duration.
What remains constant during the state of hibernation, however, is the fact that animals’ body temperatures decrease, their breathing slows and their metabolic rate drops.
The Homework Required Before Hibernation
Hibernation in itself requires little to no work, but getting ready to hibernate can be challenging for animals.
Once the temperature drops, food availability decreases, hormones change and/or the length of days change; animals know to begin hibernation preparations.
Hibernating involves finding or constructing a safe spot to bed down for weeks or months. To keep their body functioning over the hibernation period, animals must also increase their body fat. This means that in the months leading up to hibernation, animals must eat way more than usual.
If an animal is unable to store up enough fat or find sufficient food when it awakens, it can consume its fat reserves quickly – and die.
Which Animals Hibernate?
The most well-known animals that hibernate are bears, bees, snakes and groundhogs.
Bees, wasps and their kin typically only have one survivor each year. The queen finds a safe, warm place to hibernate (such as a protected hole in the ground) until the spring.
As a cold-blooded animal, snakes will hibernate in groups. Although dozens of snakes are likely, more large dens of thousands have been discovered. Certain snakes even hibernate with other species of snakes.
Skunks and raccoons are lesser known pests that go into hibernation. Although they still gain extra weight prior to hibernating, they go into a ‘light’ hibernation rather than a deep slumber. Compared to the latter, light hibernators may sometimes wake up to find food. Plus, their bodies do not go through the extreme, long-lasting changes as a true hibernator, which generally cannot be awakened. Light hibernators also may wake up to give birth to and care for their young – which is something bears do.
Chipmunks and bats are examples of true hibernators which stay asleep for the entire winter.
Have more questions about the process of hibernation? Or, have a pest problem that you know will continue over the winter months? If so, contact Habitat Wildlife Control for information and to learn more about our services.