How bears prepare for hibernation is definitely one of the most amazing things there is. There are bears that don’t need hibernation, which is polar bears with his distinctive features.
Studying animals brings great pleasure for humans. Since, we all love animals that helps us to balance ecosystem also. Humans even have these holidays that celebrate animals.
It seems that they work against the sense that we build for years. Usually, if humans eat as much as bears at one time, humans will prone to get Diabetes, and might die. But, bears apparently have adapted their body to work against this causality law.
Bears are not really territory animals. They travel a lot, in pursue of foods. However, bears will remain in the same place as long as the food sources are plenty and available. Well, considering their appetite, I don’t know whether there is a place can really serve their need like that.
Before winter strikes, during their travel, bears will investigate denning sites. When choosing den, security is the most important things. It goes without saying, since they are most vulnerable when they’re hibernating. The place can be hollow trees, if there’s one that is big enough, below root mass of a blown-over tree, or beneath brush piles.
If they haven’t satisfied with them all, sometime they will choose to create their own ground nests. And this den will be as important as squirrels’ nest that can help them survive.
Hibernation process is really not a simple case. To prepare for this process, there are many requirements that bears must fulfill. Otherwise, it will be dangerous for bears to go hibernation. This preparation of hibernation has few stages.
1. First stage
Every stage of hibernation is really as important as any other stages. They must maintain their body fat so they can hibernate successfully, even though the hibernation time is still a long way to go. From spring until midsummer or fall, bears usually do their normal activity. During this stage, bear must consume 5,000 to 8,000 calories every day.
2. Second Stage
If you think 5,000 or 8,000 calories is a massive amount calories than you can ever imagined, try 15,000 to 20,000 calories every day. In this phase called hyperphagic, bears must excessively eat to prepare for hibernation. They also need large amounts of water to process those foods and flush nitrogenous waste from their bodies. They can literally eat anything, bears can even eat berries, too!
At this phase, people must extra careful. They will literally hunt down foods everywhere, maybe until go down to people’s house or public area. For people who live near to Bear’s habitat, they must be extra careful not to let the single food outside, even in their trash bin. Especially, bears can change their taste once they taste human food. It would be catastrophe.
3. Third Stage
After the storm calms down, bears then come into fall transition. They start to eat less, even they still drink normally. Their metabolic process change to prepare for hibernation. Just like many animals who go into hibernation, or torpor, their heart beats also start to go slower. Normally, they have 80-100 beats per minute, but by the time of hibernation, it will go down to about 50-60 beats per minute.
When they sleep normally, their heart beats between 66-80 beats per minute. During hibernation, it will even go much lower, to 22 beats per minute.
4. Fourth stage
In this stage, they start the hibernation. During hibernation, bears don’t eat, urinate and defecate. It is because their body system automatically recycling the waste in their body for their needs. However, they can keep producing babies and breast milk during hibernation, so the cubs can still survive during winter.
5. Fifth stage
The last stage is walking hibernation. The meaning is, even though their metabolic process is already normal, they still eat and drink less than the previous summer months. Of course, their body waste processes are also reduced. When they are already completely leave this stage, they will go to their normal activity.
When bears already in deep sleep of hibernation, they will be really hard to be awaken. It means great for humans’ safety when we walk around their habitat, but it’s not so great for them. They can be easily attacked during the hibernation. Wildlife is wild, no one can predict what happens next. Even animals as cute as otter, can be dangerous when we try to pet them.
How bears prepare for hibernation is not only for their own comfort or warmth. They already have big thick fur that’s really warm, so it’s about preventing the danger during hibernation.