Welcome to Fat Bear Week at Mashable! Each fall, Katmai National Park holds a competition as Alaska’s brown bears finish fattening up for their long winter hibernation. This year, Mashable is getting in on the salmon-munching action. Check back with us all week as we follow the fat bear face-offs each day, and remember to get your votes in for each round. Happy fishing!
For one glorious week in October we get to celebrate the fat bears of the world.
Thanks to explore.org‘s bear cam position on the Brooks River in Alaska, viewers spend a full season getting to know brown bears gorging themselves on calorie-dense salmon while fattening up for their winter of hibernation.
Now that Fat Bear Week is almost at an end, it made us wonder: What are some other animals that hibernate, and why do they do it?
Here are 10 other animals that prefer to take the winter months off:
Image: Getty Images
There’s a reason why bees aren’t around during the winter and that because they are either asleep or dead. Actually, most of them are dead.
But no need to fret, bees have a very strategic life cycle. Each spring, the queen bees awaken from their burrows in the ground to lay a bunch of eggs; first worker bees then new queens and male bees, according to the Bumblebee Conservation Trust.
The new queens and male bees leave the nest and mate, and then once winter arrives, all of the old queens, worker and male bees die. The new queens survive and then repeat the cycle after ending a period of hibernation that could last up to nine months.
Like bears, wild hedgehogs spend their waking months focused on getting thicc for winter because the spiny creatures take part in a kind of hibernation known as torpor, according to a study published in the New Zealand Journal of Zoology.
During torpor, an animal lowers its body temperature to match the surrounding temperature and engages in long stints of inactivity.
While in a state of torpor, hedgehogs are still able to move, but movement is very limited for the six of seven months that they spend in their woodland hideouts.
Image: Getty Images
Oddly enough, the question surrounding whether or not squirrels hibernate is hotly debated.
Everyday tree squirrels do not hibernate during the winter — they just sleep a lot. However ground squirrels, which are found all over the world, actually do hibernate.
Researchers at the University of Lethbridge even documented some species rolling up in a ball during hibernation in their cozy underground burrows from October to May.
Bats hibernate in a cycle unlike any other animal.
For these flying mammals, periods of torpor can last hours or months during hibernation, according to the National Park Service. During the time in between, bats are actually able to regain their normal body temperature and return to doing bat activities, like eating.
They do all of this from the comfort of their caves, mines, or other rocky places.
There’s a lot of conflicting information about whether or not turtles hibernate, and just like the argument about squirrels, it all comes down to the type of turtle.
Turtles that live warmer, sunnier climates do not hibernate. Although, if it gets too hot they will estivate, or enter a torpor-like state, and bury themselves to stay out of the unforgiving heat until some cooler weather or rainfall returns.
The turtles that do hibernate mostly do so under ground. To keep from freezing to death, terrestrial turtles will bury themselves in the dirt and freshwater turtles will lodge themselves under the mud in the winter months, according to the Nature Conservancy.
The common poorwill is the only bird species known to hibernate.
Rather than migrate like the rest of its kin, when the insects that make up most of the poorwill’s diet become scarce during the winter, the small bird gets cozy under a rock or log and sleeps for an average of 100 days.
Okay, technically snakes don’t hibernate… they actually brumate which is the reptile equivalent of hibernation.
During the cold months, snakes will look for a well insulated hideout where they can bide their time using little to no energy until some warmth returns.
In some instances, snakes will brumate in large piles… which sounds horrifying.
Woodchucks spend close to half of their year in hibernation.
Once it’s November, Penn State researchers estimate that these furry creatures drop their body temperature to about 38 degrees Fahrenheit (down from the normal 96.8 degrees Fahrenheit) and sleep in their burrows until about late April or early May.
Fat-tailed lemurs are reportedly the only primate known to be able to hibernate for longer than 24 hours.
Like the bat, hibernation for the lemur is cyclical. While hibernation overall can last seven months, characterized by long stints of torpor, throughout that time, the lemur will regain normal body heat for about 6 to 12 days, according to researchers at Duke University.
Image: Getty Images
Overall, moths live pretty short lives. So if they haven’t died before the typical winter months, adult moths will enter a period of inactivity much like the rest of the creatures named on this list.
However if the moth has not reached adulthood, the larvae laid before winter will remain unhatched until their food source (flower nectar) replenishes, according to the Butterfly Conservation Organization.
There are a few moths that actually fly and reproduce through winter. But odds are, the only moths that will be around by the end of October are really just people in meme-themed costumes.