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Did you know that some animals sleep during summer?

Team StoryWeavers|June 07, 2022, 08:29 IST| 4

Hello young learners,

Kiki welcomes you back for another interesting episode of Knowledge corner, where we learn science concepts in a fun and simple way. After the previous few episodes on the moon and the stars, I wanted to explore something really interesting. I saw a snail fast asleep on a really hot summer day. So, I thought – Let’s talk about how some animals sleep all through the summer!

Yes, that’s right! Some animals find the summer season too hot and decide to sleep for months. The process is called aestivation. (say: ee-stee-way-shun). Let’s learn more about aestivation, why some animals sleep during summer and how they survive the whole time.

Why do some animals sleep during the summer?

Some animals – mostly snakes, lizards and frogs – find it difficult to survive the summer heat. It’s too hot for them, and sometimes, food is really hard to come by. So instead of braving the heat and searching extra hard for food, these animals decide to sleep for months together.

Some animals sleep for a few months, while others sleep for longer periods of time. 

What happens when they sleep for extended periods?

When I mentioned that some animals sleep for months together, you may have had a lot of questions coming to your mind. Don’t they feel hungry? Do they wake up to drink water? What happens to their body when they sleep for so many days?

Well, let’s try to answer the questions: In deserts and dry regions, it is a lot hotter with less water available. So, some animals that live on land and the sea go to sleep in a safe space to survive and not die because of excessive heat and less water. When they sleep, they wait for the wet season or for cooler temperatures that they need to exist. They either bury themselves into the ground or climb up trees to settle into their long naps as per their requirements! During these long naps, they conserve energy and the water their bodies have to retain so that they aren’t dehydrated beyond their capacity. 

Which animals sleep during the summer?

Animals of all sizes and habitats sleep through summer. From snails to tortoises, there are species that build a little nap spot in the soil or any hidden space and begin conserving energy and water through these months of sleep. Here are some examples of animals that aestivate.

  • Roman Snails

They do whatever they can to preserve their shell. These snails are found in Europe and parts of the UK. They dig a spot in the sand, hide in the leaves, or withdraw into their shell when they aestivate. However, when the hottest part of the day passes, they eat a little before resuming their nap!

  • Lesser siren salamander

These are aquatic animals that live in the USA. They are really resistant to heat and can survive in any heat, thanks to their summer sleeping habits. They build a layer of slime to hide in and prevent themselves from being dehydrated. In that cocoon, they begin the aestivation.

  • Desert mouse

Scurrying in the deserts of the USA and Mexico, the desert mouse is quite fast to disappear into burrows that it digs in the sand. When the temperature is really high, these mice lay motionless in their holes to conserve energy and retain water within. It can survive with very little water and food while in this ‘almost-asleep’ state to brave through summer.

  • Four-toed hedgehog

These hedgehogs are found in Africa, and they live off fat stored in their body when they aestivate. They curl into a ball and begin sleeping in a shelter inside a burrow when the temperature goes above 30 degrees celsius.

  • Desert tortoise

These tortoises live in deserts in the USA and use their front limbs to shovel out some sand in the desert and hide inside the burrow for days or weeks. They also share their space with other animals like desert squirrels and snakes, which are trying to escape from the heat! Isn’t that sweet of them?

Now that you know what aestivation is and why some animals sleep during the summer, tell us which are some animals that sleep through winter and the name of the process. Share your answers with us in the comments.

Who does not love sleep? Here are some fun facts about sleep that you might want to check out!

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About the Author

Aparna is a mom, singer and dreamer. At BYJU'S, she writes stories about learning for children. She believes in the power of music, especially ghazal, the magic of the universe and happy learners. When not writing or singing, you will find her intensely engaged in conversations about life and the power of words.

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