How Long Do Bears Hibernate (And Why)?

Exact answer: Seven And A Half Months

Bears are mammals. They are carnivorans. They belong to the Kingdom Animalia, family Ursidae and order Carnivora. They are mostly found in America, Europe, and Asia. The lifespan of bears is up to 25 years. The type of nutrition differs in different types of bears. For eg:- The polar bear is a strict carnivore whereas the giant panda eats nothing but trees such as bamboo.

Bears undergo hibernation (dormant stage) during the winter season. Hibernation is the process by which animals escape adverse conditions such as climate or food scarcity. The process involves physiological changes such as slow metabolism and a drop in body temperature.

How Long Do Bears Hibernate?

Hibernation is the process by which animals escape extreme conditions. It is basically a phase of inactivity. During hibernation, there is no such activity shown which requires energy. During this time, the animal uses stored fat as a source of energy. Few physiological changes result in a drop in body temperature.

Bears typically undergo hibernation to escape the chilling winters. Bears come out of hibernation when the temperature gets warmer or the food source gets all used up. During this period they use their stored food(fat) as the only source of energy. They do not sleep all the time during hibernation. They wake up, show a little movement, and excrete. The following table shows the duration of hibernation of different bears:-

Type Of BearDuration Of Hibernation
Black Bear7 months
Alaskan Brown Bear5 months
Grizzly Bear5-7 months
Mexican Black BearFew weeks

Why Do Bears Hibernate For So Long?

Certain animals are provided with the ability to withstand extreme conditions be it adverse climate or scarcity of food. But there are many animals that cannot withstand extreme conditions. Animals have developed strategies to overcome the winter season when there is a scarcity of food and water. In order to protect themselves, they escape these conditions by undergoing hibernation. Hibernation helps them conserve energy.

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Bears undergo hibernation to conserve energy when food resources are scarce and winters are hard to handle. During hibernation, their body temperature drops, breathing and metabolic rate decrease. All of this is done to prevent any loss of energy. Bears eat and store the energy in form of fats. This fat is responsible for providing energy during hibernation. As soon as all the stored fat gets depleted, the bear comes out of hibernation.

If the bears wake up before the definite period, it may affect their population as well. This is because if they wake up at a time where plants are not grown yet, they will die of hunger due to lack of food. There is even a possibility that they may encounter a human population due to which they can be hunted or killed. This is why the hibernation period is fixed so that the bear wakes up only during favorable conditions.

Conclusion

Bears are mammals. They belong to the kingdom Animalia, order carnivoran, and class Mammalia. They have different modes of nutrition right from being a strict carnivore to a strict herbivore. They are mostly found in America, Europe, and Asia. In order to escape harsh winters and food scarcity, they undergo hibernation.

Hibernation is the process during which an animal goes into its dormant stage. There is minimal use of energy during this phase as there is very little metabolism seen in this stage. The energy requirements are met through the breakdown of fat which is stored by eating during their active stage. Hibernation is one such method that helps to reduce the declination of the bear population.

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There is a risk of a decrease in number if the bears wake up in between the hibernation period. Either they will die of hunger or face any unfavorable circumstance which may lead to their death. This is the reason why hibernation is important. It helps bears withstand harsh conditions and maintain their species.

References

  1. https://www.jstor.org/stable/3872551
  2. https://www.jstor.org/stable/3802988

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