I hope you all had a lovely Christmas and enjoyed some family time!
I also hope you enjoyed part 1 of my holiday blog, I had some great feedback with a few people even adding an elf owl to their own Christmas tree!
This is Part 2 of Ranger Stu's Holiday Blog and we will be talking about animals that hibernate! I certainly feel like I could do with some hibernation after the year 2020!
I actually had some inspiration for this blog thanks to a bit of filming that I did with the Natural History Museum just before Christmas but more about that when its released!
So what is hibernation?
Hibernation is when an animal sleeps throughout winter. They lower their body temperature, reduce their heart rate and breathing and wait until warmer weather arrives in spring!
Here are two animals that hibernate, the first is my Hermann’s tortoise Minton and the other is our native European hedgehog!
Minton our Hermanns tortoise hibernates from December through to March every year.
A few weeks ago we gave him his last bath of the year (Tortoises should be bathed at least twice a week!), patted his little head and sent him off to hibernate.
We hibernate Minton at my home where I have a cupboard that stays about 5-10C throughout the winter, this way I can keep an eye on him until he wakes up in spring, refreshed and ready for a year of animal parties and animal school visits!
Hermanns tortoises are from the Mediterranean in the wild and so their winters are much more mild than here in the UK.
This means that if you have a pet Mediterranean tortoise you should not allow them to hibernate alone outside, the best way is to hibernate them in a place that consistently stays between 5-10C.
Hedgehogs hibernate throughout winter just like our tortoise Minton.
They build up a fat reserves throughout the year and when their food becomes scarce they start to hibernate. They then live off of these fat reserves whilst hibernating.
Hedgehogs hibernate in hedgerows or in old burrows dug by other animals, they make a nest from dry leaves and twigs.
This is why it is a good idea to check any bonfire before lighting it as the wood and leaf piles are the perfect spot for a hibernating hedgehog.
Sometimes you may be lucky enough to have a hedgehog hibernate under your garden shed!
European Hedgehogs are becoming rarer in the UK, there were once 36 million hedgehogs In the UK but now there are only 1.5 million.
This is due to loss of habitat such as the hedgerows around farmers fields and also the way we all keep our gardens enclosed. The best way to help is to make sure you have a gap somewhere along your fence so that hedgehogs can move from garden to garden.
Time for some crafts!
Hibernation Craft 1 - Hibernation Poster
Different animals hibernate in different places, some underground, some in trees and some even hibernate underwater!
Choose some animals that hibernate, find out a little more about them and where they hibernate and then create a winter hibernation poster!
This is a very simple craft and we chose a brown bear (in a cave), a fish (in mud on the bottom of a lake), a bat (in a hollow tree) and a snake (in a burrow underground).
All you need is...
Felt tip pens
We drew our pictures of hibernation places and the animals but you could also print off pictures of animals that you have found online and add them to your picture instead!
Hibernation Craft 2 - A Hibernating Hedgehog
Hedgehogs hibernate in hedgerows and this craft not only uses some natural materials that you may find in a hedgerow but also uses any old cardboard boxes that have been lying around after Christmas!
We had great fun with this craft and our quick venture outside for leaves ended up turning into a 1.5 hour walk !
All you need is...
Felt tip pens
Sellotape or glue
Leaves and twigs.
Firstly get an adult to cut a hole in the front your cardboard board with scissors, leaving a boarder around the edge.
Draw your hibernating hedgehog on the inside of the cardboard box, you could add some drawings of leaves and twigs as well if you like.
Now is the fun part, head outside and collect lots of dried leaves and twigs. These will become your hibernation nest for your hedgehog.
Using glue or sellotape (we found sellotape was easier!) stick your leaves and twigs to the boarder on the front on the box!
There you have it, your very own hibernating hedgehog. (See our pictures below - Please excuse the chocolate around my sons face!!)
Enjoy, take care and stay safe.
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