Aestivation vs. Hibernation: Know the Difference
By Shumaila Saeed || Updated on November 20, 2023
Aestivation is dormancy in hot/dry conditions, conserving moisture and energy. Hibernation is dormancy in cold conditions, conserving energy during scarce food availability.
Aestivation is often less well-known than hibernation, but both are crucial survival strategies for animals facing seasonal environmental challenges—heat and aridity in the case of aestivation, and cold and food shortage in hibernation.
Aestivation is a state of dormancy or torpor that some animals enter during extremely hot or dry periods to conserve energy and minimize water loss. Conversely, hibernation is a similar state of reduced metabolic activity, but it occurs during cold weather to conserve energy when food is scarce.
Aestivation primarily helps animals avoid dehydration and extreme temperatures, particularly in arid and tropical regions. Hibernation, on the other hand, is an adaptation to cold climates, allowing animals to conserve energy by reducing physiological activities during times of food scarcity.
During aestivation, animals like snails, fish, and amphibians slow their metabolic rate to survive harsh environmental conditions like drought. In contrast, animals such as bears, bats, and some rodents hibernate, lowering their body temperature and metabolic rate to survive the winter when food sources are limited.
The duration of aestivation varies among species and depends on environmental conditions, potentially lasting for months. Hibernation also varies in duration, typically lasting for several months, depending on the species and the severity of the winter.
Hot or dry conditions
Avoid dehydration and heat
Conserve energy during food scarcity
Snails, lungfish, amphibians
Bears, bats, rodents
Decreased metabolic rate
Reduced body temperature and metabolic rate
Varies, often months
Several months, depending on species
Aestivation and Hibernation Definitions
Dormancy in summer
The desert frog enters aestivation during the dry summer months.
Bears are known for hibernating through the winter.
Torpor in hot periods
Aestivation helps certain snails survive extreme heat.
Metabolic reduction in cold
During hibernation, the squirrel's metabolic rate drops significantly.
Metabolic slowdown in drought
During drought, some fish aestivate in mud cocoons.
Energy conservation in winter
To conserve energy, the animal hibernates in cold climates.
Energy conservation during heat
To conserve energy, the animal undergoes aestivation.
Cold weather torpor
Hibernation allows bats to survive the cold.
Survival strategy in arid conditions
Aestivation is crucial for amphibians in arid regions.
To be in a dormant or torpid state during a cold period, especially during the winter.
Variant of estivation.
To be in an inactive or dormant state or period
"In Lawrenceville people hibernated and life passed them by" (Jacqueline Susann).
(biology) A state of inactivity and metabolic depression during summer: the summer version of hibernation.
A state of minimum power consumption, inactivity and metabolic depression in some animals during winter.
(botany) The arrangement (vernation) of the parts of a flower inside a bud; prefloration.
A hypothetical state of minimum power consumption, inactivity and metabolic depression in humans during long space flights.
(obsolete) The spending or passing of a summer.
(computing) A standby state which conserves power by writing the contents of the memory to disk and completely power off the computer, in order that one will resume the session from the disk.
The state of torpidity induced by the heat and dryness of summer, as in certain snails; - opposed to hibernation.
The act or state of hibernating.
The arrangement of the petals in a flower bud, as to folding, overlapping, etc.; prefloration.
The torpid or resting state in which some animals pass the winter
(zoology) cessation or slowing of activity during the summer; especially slowing of metabolism in some animals during a hot or dry period
Cessation from or slowing of activity during the winter; especially slowing of metabolism in some animals
(botany) the arrangement of sepals and petals in a flower bud before it opens
The act of retiring into inactivity;
He emerged from his hibernation to make his first appearance in several years
Long-term sleep in winter
The hedgehog's hibernation is like a long winter sleep.
Repeatedly Asked Queries
What is aestivation?
Aestivation is a period of dormancy animals enter in hot or dry conditions.
Can any animal aestivate?
Not all animals can; aestivation is specific to certain species adapted to hot or dry environments.
Why do animals aestivate?
Animals aestivate to conserve energy and minimize water loss during harsh environmental conditions.
What triggers hibernation in animals?
Cold weather and food scarcity typically trigger hibernation.
How do animals survive during hibernation?
Animals survive by using stored energy and reducing physiological activities.
Can hibernation occur in warm climates?
Hibernation is mostly associated with cold climates, though similar states can occur in some warm-climate species.
How long can aestivation last?
Aestivation can last for weeks to months, depending on the species and environment.
Are there health benefits to hibernation?
Hibernation can have benefits like energy conservation and reduced need for resources.
Is hibernation similar to sleep?
Hibernation is a deeper state than sleep, with significant metabolic slowdown.
Is hibernation a voluntary process?
Hibernation is an involuntary response to environmental conditions.
Do animals eat during aestivation?
Generally, animals do not eat during aestivation and rely on stored energy.
Are there risks during aestivation?
Risks include vulnerability to predators and potential dehydration.
How do animals prepare for hibernation?
Animals prepare by eating more to store energy as fat.
Is hibernation the same in all animals?
The specifics of hibernation can vary widely among different species.
Can humans enter a state similar to hibernation?
Humans cannot naturally hibernate, though research is exploring similar metabolic states for medical purposes.
Can aestivation be interrupted?
Environmental changes like rainfall can interrupt aestivation.
Do animals age during aestivation?
Biological processes slow down, possibly affecting the aging process.
What physiological changes occur during aestivation?
Decreased metabolic rate and reduced water loss are common changes.
Does every animal in a species aestivate?
Not necessarily; it depends on individual needs and environmental factors.
What happens when animals wake from hibernation?
They experience increased metabolism and resume normal activities.
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Written byShumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed, an expert content creator with 6 years of experience, specializes in distilling complex topics into easily digestible comparisons, shining a light on the nuances that both inform and educate readers with clarity and accuracy.