The arctic ground squirrel lives (appropriately enough) in the Arctic, where it is very cold and very boring and there isn’t a lot of food. In fact, it’s so boring, and food is so scarce, that the squirrels essentially put themselves in cold storage for eight months out of the year, hibernating with a body temperature of minus 3 degrees C. Now, some nice scientists with cameras have managed to film this squirrel waking up from its epic slumber, and you can watch this chilly little guy wake up and warm up.
Scientists are interested in how these animals, who live with no light in the winter and constant light in the summer, manage to figure out what the hell they’re supposed to be doing with themselves. Thanks to these investigations, they know some crazy little neato things about them. For starters, there’s the minus-3-degrees-C hibernating body temperature — the lowest of any mammal. They’ve also found that the ground squirrel has no particles in its blood that can freeze while it is asleep, so his blood manages to keep flowing in his tiny squirrel veins even if it’s as cold as minus 26 degrees C outside. One more fact: Male squirrels wake up three weeks before female squirrels, and, not surprisingly, just sit around eating (and probably watching squirrel football) before emerging.
Next up: figuring out what these animals do in the summer and how they fare with constant light. We’re guessing they do not lie out and get tans and listen to Katy Perry. But if they do, we want to watch that video.
Zoologger: Supercool squirrels go into the deep freeze, New Scientist.