20 Animals That Hibernate

Animals that hibernate are undeniably fascinating. After all, these sleeping beauties choose to take a long rest during the coldest months of the year. Instead of duking it out with the unfavorable conditions, they decide to wait it out by resting.

If you are curious about the animals that hibernate, you are in the right place. Let’s explore some of the amazing animals that take this unique route during the winter.

A List of 20 Animals That Hibernate

In terms of animals that hibernate, the list is long. While we won’t cover every single animal on the planet that hibernates, the following list should help get you started:

  1. Polar Bears
  2. Bats
  3. Wood Frogs
  4. Skunks
  5. Land Snails
  6. Box Turtles
  7. Groundhogs
  8. Common Poorwill
  9. Hedgehogs
  10. Bumblebees
  11. Salamanders
  12. Ladybugs
  13. Chipmunks
  14. Grizzly Bears
  15. Garter Snake
  16. Fat-Tailed Dwarf Lemur
  17. Badger
  18. Dormouse
  19. Woodchucks
  20. Raccoons

What Is Hibernation?

Hibernation is a remarkable survival strategy adopted by certain animals to cope with harsh environmental conditions, especially during winter. It is a state of prolonged dormancy characterized by a significant reduction in metabolic rate, body temperature, and overall activity. During hibernation, animals conserve energy by lowering their heart rate, breathing rate, and body temperature, allowing them to survive for extended periods without food.

While hibernation can last for weeks or even months, torpor is a shorter and less profound state of decreased activity and metabolism. Torpor is often used by animals to conserve energy during periods of unfavorable conditions, such as food scarcity or extreme temperatures. Unlike hibernation, torpor can be entered and exited relatively quickly, allowing animals to resume their normal activities as conditions improve.

During hibernation, animals enter a state of torpor as part of the overall hibernation cycle. They gradually reduce their metabolic activity and retreat to sheltered locations such as dens, burrows, or hollow trees. By entering hibernation, animals can survive in environments where food is scarce or unavailable and temperatures are dangerously low. This incredible adaptation enables them to conserve vital energy reserves and emerge rejuvenated when conditions improve.

20 Animals That Hibernate: A Closer Look

In some latitudes, it’s relatively common for animals to choose hibernation to avoid frigid winter conditions. The remarkable skills of many species to voluntarily choose a state of dormancy play a key role in survival for many of these species. Below is a closer look at some of the animals that hibernate through harsh times of the year:

Polar Bears

The polar bear (Ursus maritimus) is an iconic species inhabiting the Arctic region. These majestic creatures are renowned for their incredible adaptations to the harsh polar environment. With a thick layer of insulating blubber and a dense double-layered coat of fur, polar bears are well-suited to survive in freezing temperatures.

Physically, polar bears are large and muscular, with adult males weighing between 900 to 1,600 pounds (400 to 700 kilograms) and measuring around 8 to 10 feet (2.4 to 3 meters) in length. They have a distinctive white coat that camouflages them against the snowy landscapes. Their long, powerful limbs and large paws, armed with sharp claws, enable them to navigate across the Arctic ice and swim with ease.

When it comes to hibernation choices, polar bears do not technically hibernate like some other bear species. Instead, they enter a state known as “walking hibernation” or “dormancy” during the winter months. During this period, pregnant female polar bears will dig dens in snowdrifts or on sea ice to give birth and nurse their cubs. While they do not experience a decrease in body temperature like true hibernators, they reduce their activity levels, relying on their fat reserves until the warmer months when they can hunt seals on the ice again. This adaptation allows them to conserve energy and survive through the scarcity of food during the harsh Arctic winter.


With over 1,400 species worldwide, not all bats hibernate. But bats many do hibernate. Most bats possess elongated wings formed by a thin membrane of skin stretched between elongated fingers, allowing them to navigate the night skies with exceptional agility. They are often small to medium-sized, with body lengths ranging from a few centimeters to several inches.

As winter approaches and food sources become scarce, many bat species enter a state of deep hibernation. They seek out secluded locations such as caves, abandoned mines, or tree hollows to roost in large numbers. During hibernation, bats drastically reduce their metabolic rate and body temperature to conserve energy. Some species even experience a temporary suspension of vital functions. This adaptation allows them to survive the winter months when insect prey is scarce and conditions are inhospitable. Once spring arrives and food sources become abundant again, bats emerge from their hibernation sites, ready to resume their active lifestyles.

Wood Frogs

Wood frogs (Rana sylvatica) are fascinating amphibians that have developed a remarkable strategy to survive harsh winter conditions. These small frogs can be found across North America in forested areas and wetlands.

Physically, wood frogs have a robust and compact body, with males measuring around 1.5 to 2.7 inches (3.8 to 6.9 centimeters) in length and females being slightly larger. They have smooth skin that ranges in color from tan to reddish-brown, often adorned with dark markings. One distinctive feature of wood frogs is the black “mask” that extends from their eyes to their eardrums.

Wood frogs hibernate to survive freezing temperatures. As winter approaches, wood frogs burrow into leaf litter or loose soil, usually near ponds or wetlands. As the temperatures drop, the wood frogs’ bodies produce a high concentration of glucose, which acts as a natural antifreeze. This glucose prevents ice formation within their cells and organs, allowing them to enter a state of suspended animation. During this time, their heart rate and metabolic activity drastically decrease, and they remain dormant until warmer temperatures signal the arrival of spring. Once the conditions are favorable, wood frogs emerge from their hibernation sites and embark on their annual breeding migration to nearby water bodies.


Skunks, scientifically known as Mephitidae, are distinctive mammals known for their black and white fur patterns and their potent defensive spray. They can be found in various habitats across the Americas, from forests and grasslands to urban areas.

When it comes to hibernation choices, skunks do not technically hibernate like some other mammals. Instead, they enter a period of torpor during the coldest months of the year. As temperatures drop and food becomes scarce, skunks seek shelter in dens or burrows, often digging their own or utilizing existing structures. During this time, their metabolic rate decreases, and they reduce their activity levels to conserve energy. While in torpor, skunks can emerge from their dens occasionally during milder weather to forage for food. However, they generally limit their activity and rely on stored fat reserves until the arrival of spring, when they become more active again.

Land Snails

Land snails, in the Gastropoda family, are fascinating creatures that inhabit a variety of terrestrial habitats worldwide. These small, slow-moving mollusks exhibit a range of physical characteristics, but they are generally recognized by their spiral-shaped shells and soft bodies.

Land snails can hibernate in the winter. In some cases, land snails can hibernate for up to three years.

But during periods of extreme heat, drought, or unfavorable environmental conditions, can shift into estivation. Estivation, or summer sleep, happens when land snails seek shelter and enter a protective state to conserve moisture and energy. They retreat into their shells and seal the opening with a layer of dried mucus, forming a protective barrier. This dormant state allows them to survive in arid or harsh environments until more favorable conditions return. Once the environment becomes suitable again, land snails emerge from estivation and resume their normal activities, foraging for food and reproducing.

Box Turtles

Box turtles are reptiles that can be found in various habitats across North America. These turtles are known for their ability to retract their heads, legs, and tails into their box-like shells for protection.

While box turtles don’t technically hibernate, they do exhibit a behavior known as brumation. As the temperatures drop, box turtles prepare for the winter months by seeking suitable hibernation sites. They often burrow into the ground or hide under leaf litter, logs, or other natural cover. During brumation, their metabolism slows down, and their bodily functions decrease to conserve energy. They enter a state of reduced activity, remaining dormant until warmer temperatures return. This adaptation allows box turtles to survive the cold winter months when food availability is scarce, resurfacing in spring to resume their active lives.


Groundhogs (Marmota monax) are small to medium-sized rodents that are well-known for their role in predicting the arrival of spring on Groundhog Day. These burrowing mammals are found in North America and are recognized for their stout bodies and short legs.

Groundhogs are considered true hibernators. As winter approaches, groundhogs prepare by accumulating fat reserves to sustain them through the period of hibernation. They construct elaborate burrows, complete with chambers for sleeping, storing food, and defecating. Once winter sets in, groundhogs enter a state of deep hibernation. Their body temperature drops significantly, and their heart rate and metabolic activities slow down dramatically to conserve energy. During this time, groundhogs remain in their burrows, living off their fat stores until warmer spring temperatures prompt them to emerge from their winter slumber.

Common Poorwill

The common poorwill (Phalaenoptilus nuttallii) is a bird found in western North America. These nocturnal birds are known for their distinctive hibernation habits and unique adaptations. Common poorwills have a small and compact body, measuring around 7 to 10 inches (18 to 25 centimeters) in length. They have mottled gray-brown feathers that provide excellent camouflage in their natural habitats.

As winter approaches, they seek out sheltered locations such as rocky crevices or burrows on the ground. Common poorwills enter a state of torpor, reducing their metabolic rate and body temperature to conserve energy. Their activity levels are greatly decreased throughout the winter and they become less responsive to stimuli. They rely on their fat reserves to sustain them through the winter months when food is scarce. When spring arrives and temperatures rise, common poorwills emerge from their hibernation sites and resume their nocturnal foraging activities.


Hedgehogs are prickly creatures found across Europe, Asia, and Africa. These small mammals are easily recognized by their spiky coat of sharp, hollow spines that serve as a defense mechanism.

Hedgehogs are known to be facultative hibernators, meaning that not all individuals hibernate and it can depend on various factors such as food availability and temperature. As winter approaches and temperatures drop, hedgehogs seek out suitable hibernation sites. They construct nests made of leaves, grass, and other materials in sheltered areas such as piles of leaves or in dense vegetation. During hibernation, their metabolic rate slows down, and their body temperature drops significantly. Hedgehogs rely on their fat reserves accumulated during the warmer months to sustain them through the winter. However, if the weather becomes milder or food sources are still available, some hedgehogs may remain active throughout the winter without entering a full hibernation state.


Bumblebees are essential pollinators found across various regions of the world. These robust and fuzzy insects play a vital role in the ecosystem by pollinating a wide variety of flowering plants.

Bumblebees have a unique hibernation strategy compared to other animals. Only the queen bumblebees hibernate, while the worker bees and males die off with the onset of winter. As autumn approaches, the queen bumblebees seek sheltered locations, such as underground burrows or hollow tree cavities, to hibernate. During hibernation, the queen’s metabolic rate drops significantly, and her body temperature decreases. Once the temperatures rise, the queen bumblebees emerge from hibernation and begin establishing new colonies, initiating the next generation of bumblebees.


Salamanders are amphibians found in habitats around the world. These sleek and slender creatures are characterized by their long bodies, short legs, and moist skin, which is permeable to water and allows for gas exchange. Salamanders come in various shapes, sizes, and colors, with some species exhibiting vibrant patterns while others have more subdued hues.

Not all salamander species hibernate, but many do. Some salamanders, like the Eastern Red-backed Salamander (Plethodon cinereus), seek shelter in underground burrows or crevices during the colder months. They reduce their activity levels and metabolism, conserving energy until temperatures rise again. Other species, such as the Tiger Salamander (Ambystoma tigrinum), may hibernate in the mud at the bottom of ponds or lakes. They can withstand freezing temperatures by producing antifreeze compounds in their tissues. This enables them to survive in a dormant state until favorable conditions return.


Ladybugs are small and vibrant insects that are adored by many for their colorful appearance and beneficial role as natural predators of plant pests. The recognizable creatures have a compact and rounded body with a distinct domed shape. They come in a variety of colors and patterns, but the most well-known species typically have a bright red or orange shell adorned with black spots.

Ladybugs exhibit a behavior known as overwintering. As temperatures drop, ladybugs seek sheltered locations to hibernate during the colder months. They often gather in large groups, seeking out protected spots such as leaf litter, tree bark, or cracks in rocks or buildings. Ladybugs enter a state of dormancy, lowering their metabolic rate and becoming less active. Once spring arrives, ladybugs emerge from their hibernation sites and resume their beneficial role as predators of aphids and other garden pests, aiding in natural pest control.


Chipmunks are small rodents that are often recognized for their adorable appearance and bushy tails. These agile mammals can be found in various habitats across North America.

Chipmunks are considered light hibernators. As winter approaches, they retreat to their underground burrows, which they meticulously construct with multiple chambers and tunnels. Chipmunks stockpile food, such as nuts and seeds, in their burrows to sustain them throughout the winter months. While chipmunks do not experience a significant drop in body temperature like deep hibernators, they enter a state of torpor, where their metabolic rate decreases, and they become less active. They periodically wake up from their torpor to feed on their cached food supplies. This strategy allows chipmunks to conserve energy and survive through cold winter conditions.

Grizzly Bears

Grizzly bears, scientifically known as Ursus arctos horribilis, are powerful creatures that are native to North America. These large mammals can hibernate in the winter for four to seven months.

As winter approaches, they prepare for hibernation by accumulating fat reserves during the summer and fall. Throughout their active season, you’ll often spot grizzlies on the hunt for food.

Grizzly bears seek out sheltered dens, such as caves or hollowed-out trees, where they will spend the winter months. During hibernation, their metabolic rate decreases, and their body temperature lowers slightly. However, unlike smaller hibernators, grizzly bears can be easily awakened from their hibernation state and may even venture outside their dens during warmer periods throughout the winter. This flexibility allows grizzly bears to respond to environmental conditions and conserve energy during times when food availability is limited.

Garter Snake

Garter snakes (Thamnophis sirtalis) are slender and non-venomous snakes that are widely distributed across North America. These adaptable reptiles are known for their vibrant color patterns and play a crucial role in controlling rodent populations.

Garter snakes undergo a form of brumation. As temperatures drop, garter snakes seek out suitable hibernation sites, such as underground burrows, rock crevices, or old mammal burrows. They gather in large numbers to hibernate together, providing each other with warmth and protection. During brumation, their metabolism slows down, and they become less active. Garter snakes may remain in their hibernation sites for several months until temperatures rise and food sources become more abundant.

Fat-Tailed Dwarf Lemur

The fat-tailed dwarf lemur (Cheirogaleus medius) is a unique primate species found in Madagascar. These small, nocturnal lemurs are renowned for their adorable appearance.

The fat-tailed dwarf lemur is an obligate hibernator. As the dry season approaches, they prepare for hibernation by building nests in tree holes or rock crevices. During hibernation, their body temperature drops significantly, and their metabolic rate decreases to conserve energy. Interestingly, fat-tailed dwarf lemurs enter a state known as torpor, where they periodically wake up from hibernation for short periods to warm up and feed on available food sources.


Badgers (Meles meles) are sturdy and burrowing mammals found in various habitats across Europe, Asia, and North America. These robust animals are recognized for their distinct black-and-white facial markings and powerful digging capabilities.

Badgers are not true hibernators. Instead, they enter a state of torpor during the winter months. Badgers retreat to their setts, which consist of elaborate chambers and tunnels, often lined with dry grass and leaves for insulation. During torpor, their metabolic rate decreases, and their activity levels reduce significantly.

However, badgers may wake up periodically to forage for stored food or to relocate within their sett. This torpor period allows badgers to conserve energy and survive through the winter, emerging once temperatures rise and food sources become more abundant.


Dormice are small rodents found in Europe, Asia, and Africa. They have a compact body with short legs and a furry tail that helps them maintain balance. They typically have soft and dense fur, ranging in color from shades of gray to brown, providing excellent insulation.

Dormice are true hibernators. As temperatures drop and food becomes scarce, dormice prepare for hibernation by accumulating fat reserves during the summer and autumn months. They seek out well-insulated nests, often in tree cavities or underground burrows, and curl up into a ball to conserve heat. During hibernation, their metabolic rate and body temperature drop significantly, and they enter a deep state of dormancy. Dormice rely on their fat stores to sustain them throughout the winter until spring arrives and food sources become more abundant.


Raccoons (Procyon lotor) are adaptable and intelligent mammals found in North America. These masked bandits are recognized for their dexterous paws and mischievous nature.

When it comes to hibernation choices, raccoons do not typically hibernate in the same manner as some other animals. While they do experience a decrease in activity during the winter months, raccoons can remain active throughout the year, especially in regions with milder climates. However, in colder areas or during severe weather conditions, raccoons may enter a state of torpor or reduce their activity levels. They seek out sheltered locations, such as tree hollows, burrows, or attics, where they can rest and conserve energy until conditions improve.


Earthworms are common invertebrates that play a crucial role in soil health and nutrient cycling. With a long and cylindrical body with a soft and moist exterior, these are easy to recognize. I can usually spot several after a heavy rain.

Earthworms do not hibernate in the traditional sense. Instead, they exhibit a behavior known as aestivation during unfavorable environmental conditions. When soil moisture decreases or temperatures become extreme, earthworms seek shelter by burrowing deeper into the ground or creating vertical tunnels. In these retreats, they coil up into a resting position and produce a mucus layer to prevent desiccation. Aestivation helps earthworms conserve moisture and energy until more favorable conditions return, allowing them to continue their essential role in improving soil structure and nutrient cycling.

Animals That Hibernate: Frequently Asked Questions

You have questions about animals that hibernate. I have answers.

What animals always hibernate?

A few animals that usually hibernate include bears, bats, groundhogs, chipmunks, and bumblebees.

What animal hibernates the longest?

According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the Australian Pygmy Possum has been seen to hibernate the longest, with a record of 367 days.

Final Take on Animals That Hibernate

Animals that hibernate are undeniably fascinating. Anyone who loves animals can appreciate the lengths these wild animals go to survive harsh weather conditions. Which of these hibernators is your favorite?