Difference Between Hibernation And Aestivation

Hibernation vs Aestivation?

Do you know the difference?

If not, don’t worry – you’re not alone. Many people are unsure of the difference between these two terms.

Let’s discuss the difference between hibernation and aestivation and provide some examples of each phenomenon.

Difference Between Hibernation And Aestivation

Hibernation is a state of complete sleep and lowered metabolism that allows an animal to conserve energy during cold winter months.

Aestivation, on the other hand, is a state of suspended animation that allows an animal to avoid high temperatures and dry conditions.

What is the difference between hibernation and aestivation? 

Hibernation Vs Aestivation

Hibernation and aestivation are both forms of dormancy, a period of inactivity that allows animals to conserve energy and survive periods of adverse conditions, such as cold weather or drought.

Hibernation typically occurs during the winter months, when food is scarce and temperatures are cold whereas aestivation, on the other hand, takes place during the summer months, when temperatures are hot and food is less readily available.

During dormancy, animals enter a state of lowered metabolism and heart rate, and they may even enter a state of torpor, in which their body temperature drops significantly.

While both hibernation and aestivation help animals to survive periods of extreme conditions, they are not interchangeable; hibernation is used to survive periods of cold weather, while aestivation is used to survive periods of hot weather.

How do animals enter hibernation or aestivation? 

hedgehog hibernating in a cave

Hibernation vs Aestivation

One of the ways that animals can enter hibernation is by slowing down their metabolism.

  • This can be done by either reducing their body temperature or lowering their heart rate.
  • In some cases, animals will also stop eating and drinking during this time.

Another way that animals can enter hibernation is by aestivation.

  • This is when an animal buries itself in a cool, damp place in order to escape the extreme heat of summer.
  • Once the animal has buried itself, it will enter a state of dormancy until the weather becomes cooler.

Although both hibernation and aestivation are used as a way to conserve energy, aestivation is generally used as a last resort since it can be very dangerous for an animal to bury itself alive.

What are some examples of animals that hibernate or aestivate 


There are many examples of animals that hibernate or aestivate, including bears, bats, chipmunks, groundhogs, skunks, and opossums.

Some frogs and turtles bury themselves in the mud at the bottom of ponds to escape the heat, while others bury themselves in sand or soil beneath the ground.

Snails retreat into their shells, and bees huddle together in their nests to stay warm.

Even some plants go into dormancy during periods of extreme heat or cold.

By taking refuge from harsh conditions, these animals and plants are able to survive until more favorable conditions return.

Why do animals hibernate or aestivate

There are several reasons why animals hibernate or aestivate.

One reason is to conserve energy. When food is scarce, animals need to reduce their metabolism in order to survive.

animals hibernating

Hibernation and aestivation allow animals to do this by reducing their body temperature and heart rate.

  • Another reason is to avoid dangerous conditions.
  • By hibernating or aestivating during periods of extreme weather, animals can stay safe and avoid injury.
  • Finally, hibernation and aestivation can help animals extend their lifetime.
  • By avoiding periods of extreme weather, animals can live longer and produce more offspring.

How does hibernation or aestivation benefit an animal? 

Both strategies have their benefits.

By hibernating our aestivating, animals can avoid dangerous weather conditions and conserved energy that would otherwise be expended in search of food or water.

In some cases, these strategies may also help animals to avoid predators or escape from competitors.

As a result, hibernation and aestivation can both be beneficial for animals.

Which is more common, hibernation or aestivation?

While both hibernation and aestivation are effective survival strategies, hibernation is much more common.

  • This is because aestivation typically only occurs in hot climates, while hibernation can occur in both cold and warm climates.
  • In addition, aestivation generally only occurs when an animal is unable to find food or water, while hibernation may also be used as a preemptive measure to avoid difficult conditions.

For these reasons, hibernation is generally considered to be the more common of the two processes.

Although the terms “hibernation” and “aestivation” are often used interchangeably, they technically refer to two different mechanisms that animals use to survive in extreme conditions.

Article Sources

Jacks of Science sources the most authoritative, trustworthy, and highly recognized institutions for our article research. Learn more about our Editorial Teams process and diligence in verifying the accuracy of every article we publish.