Scientists say: Hibernaculum

It’s where some animals go to rest undisturbed over winter

These bats are packed tightly together in a cave, the hibernaculum they have chosen for the winter.


Hibernaculum  Singular noun. Hi-buhr-NAHK-you-lum  Plural: hibernacula hi-buhr-NAK-yuh-lah

The place or places where animals hibernate. During this rest period, animals drastically slow down their activity to save energy. They may breathe slowly and have a low body temperature and heart rate. They may appear to be sleeping, but hibernation is actually different. Bears and bats may use caves as hibernacula. Rodents such as ground squirrels may use burrows underground.

In a sentence

Diseases such as white-nose syndrome may wait for bats in their hibernacula.

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Power Words

hibernation  A state of inactivity that some animal species enter to save energy at certain times of year. Bears and bats, for example, may hibernate through the winter. During this time, the animals move little, and their bodies’ use of energy slows dramatically. This eliminates the need to feed for months at a time.

Bethany Brookshire was a longtime staff writer at Science News Explores and is the author of the book Pests: How Humans Create Animal Villains. She has a Ph.D. in physiology and pharmacology and likes to write about neuroscience, biology, climate and more. She thinks Porgs are an invasive species.

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