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Animals That Hibernate

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February 8, 2012 by Devils Den

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Many of us are familiar with animals that hibernate. Squirrels, opossums, chipmunks, skunks and bats are among some of the mammals that hibernate. These animals enter hibernation in the winter to conserve energy by going into a deep sleep-like state.

Hibernation can vary widely lasting several weeks or several hours a day. This is called a torpor or temporary hibernation. With a slowed heart rate and lowered body temperature, these animals have adapted to survive cold winters with little or no sustenance. The dormant state means that the animals function minimally to conserve energy. Many times these animals come out of hibernation to snack on harvested food. In the months leading up to hibernation, the animal has stored fat by eating more than usual.

No one knows exactly what triggers hibernation in various animals. It might be the cooler temperatures, a change in light exposure, or the lessening of the food sup- ply. As the days begin to grow shorter and the trees are dropping their nuts and leaves, the animals at Devil’s Den State Park scurry around getting the last of their food sup- ply stored away for the winter.

So before our furry friends disappear into their holes, dens or rock crevices and the weather turns too cold for us, come enjoy a brisk hike on one of our trails and witness the changing season. If you are lucky, you may catch glimpses of the park’s wildlife.

You could hike to the Yellow Rock in the morning; watch the sunrise come over the mountain. Or walk the Lake Trail along the creek and gather a few leaves to press in a book like you did when you were a kid. Whatever you do, come enjoy your beautiful park.

Be sure to check out the website www.arkansasstateparks.com for the calendar of events.

– By Myra Collins

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