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When Do Animals Hibernate

By Chris Taylor Thursday, December 7, 2017

Hello all and welcome to December! Temperatures have been mild in Wisconsin throughout November so it’s still been really fun to get out and enjoy the fall colors. I have been thinking a lot about the temperatures and it got me to wondering, when do animals actually begin to hibernate.

Hibernation is a survival skill, animals store fat and food reserves and sleep for months to survive the harsh winters. But what do they do when it’s 50 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit? Well the short answer is middle to the end of October.

See even though the temperatures are up, fall has still happened and foraging is a bit tougher for herbivores. So everyone pretty much packs it in at the same time. What I find unique and a bit troubling about hibernation is actually when they wake up.

Animals should begin to emerge from their slumber around mid March. With global warming and warmer temps, bears in Yellowstone Park have been waking up out of their slumber in early February. Something like this can be problematic because food supplies aren’t where they need to be at that time requiring them to travel into places that might not be safe to find food.

Hedgehogs however can be around all the way through December with the warm weather. Did you know that if a hedgehog gets too cold in its den that it will actually get up and chance dens in the middle of winter? They should get space heaters or something :).

I think it’s more interesting to note who doesn’t hibernate for the winter. Porcupines don’t, neither do badgers (they might have taken a nap on Saturday though). Bobcats and mountain lions? Nope they stay awake and so do skunks.

At Timbavati Wildlife Park we don’t hibernate either. We’re now open all winter long. Check out website for tour times. Foxes don’t hibernate either, so here are some foxes for you to fawn over and we’ll follow up in a few!



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