Monday, December 24, 2012

Trivia Question of the Week

It's time for the TQOTW!

How long do brown bears hibernate?

Hint #1: When brown bears hibernate, they're not really sleeping the entire time. They rouse themselves periodically to keep their temperatures elevated. This is particularly true with females, who give birth to and feed young while in the den.

Hint #2: Although we expect bears to hibernate throughout the winter, this isn't always true. Some bears will be active mid-winter, although most will avoid the cold temperatures and heavy snow by denning up and sleeping it out.

Hint #3: Brown bears will add six to eight inches of fat before hibernation, which acts to store energy and for insulation. That has to last them quite a long time...

Hint #4: Although bears may wake during hibernation, they usually do not feed at all during this time period. A special hormone in their blood stream, leptin, works to suppress the bear's appetite.

Hint #5: A good general rule of thumb is that bears will hibernate from mid- to late-autumn through spring.

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If you guessed November through April, you're right on! Female brown bears around Haines, monitored by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game with radio collars, have been observed hibernating, on average, between November 6th and April 29th of each year. Some bears will enter their dens later and/or emerge earlier, and hibernation times vary widely based on geographic region. Black bears usually hibernate October through March. In some temperate ecosystems that don't see much snow, some black bears won't hibernate at all.

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