Why Do Gophers Hibernate?

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The two key species of gophers are the Richardsons ground squirrel and the pocket gopher. There have been questions on whether all species of gophers hibernate. Even though this has not been conclusively stated by experts, the Richardsons ground squirrel and several other species of gophers are believed to hibernate. They mainly hibernate during the cold winters.

Young gophers begin their hibernation at the start of autumn during their first year after birth while the older gophers begin hibernating in the heart of summer. This is normally the period around July of every year. When the gophers come from their state of hibernation, it is normally the male species that come out ahead of the rest to define their fields before their female counterparts emerge weeks later.

What has baffled many is the reason why gophers hibernate!

It is quite interesting that these rodents hibernate fundamentally because they have several biological needs to do so. In fact, when these gophers are domesticated and thus fail to hibernate, they develop extreme health issues that might end up fatal.

Moreover, their sexual life is defined by their hibernation period. The small ones do not become sexually potent until after hibernation. By which time, they are already about 11 months old. For the male species, their sexual organs undergo some development while hibernating in their underground hibernaculum. Their testes enlarge and come down into the scrotum before they emerge on the surface.

During the period after hibernation, the gophers mate for a period of about 4 weeks. This is the time that both the male and the female gophers are fully sexually active and the only time when the female gophers can get pregnant.

Other researchers have also mentioned that during winter, some gophers stay in their underground hibernaculum, but only come out to look for food when the outside temperature is not so cold. In such cases, the hibernaculum is used primarily as a resting place, but not for full hibernation.

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