Hibernating Dormouse

Hibernating dormouse. A Dormouse may only live for two or three years, and whether it survives for another season will depend on how much weight it gains before going into hibernation, a winter sleep that may last five months.

If the dormouse does not put on enough fat, it might never wake up. Deep in the litter, curled like a ball, the dormouse has spent the five months of winter in a sleep which is close to death.

Its body temperature has remained almost at freezing, it has breathed only four or five times an hour. As warmth returns, it stirs and begins to wake. It shivers to regain body warmth.
Its heart beat increases from its resting rate of fifty beats a minute to five hundred.

It has survived on the reserves of fat from the previous autumn, but has lost much of its body weight. With a metabolic rate so fast it must eat, or die.
As soon as it wakes, it returns to a forest that is exploding with colour and life.

Check our other intriguing, interesting and arresting moving images - the dormouse is a freeze frame taken from a movie clip - with NHNZ Images