In winter there are periods of fasting in those animals that hibernate only in a limited sense. Ours is a good solution. The dispatch says that before the blizzard of Jan. It all started when I shared my concerns about the state of lives in Kichankani through my regular columns on a Malayalam portal and frequent status updates on Facebook.
Definition of Fasting
Can we not learn from observing the normal and regular activities of animals living normal lives — must we assume that animals are capable of teaching us something only when under artificial conditions, and subjected to processes that they never encounter in the normal course of their existence? How much is a First Class stamp? I need to charge up my phone herzlmaler. Bats leaving a cave and flying to another when its temperature starts to drop to too low levels shows that the reduction of their metabolism is not a result of lowered temperature. I live here gacetadominho.
The same criticisms may be made of Inanition and Malnutrition, by C. In a bibliography covering pages, I was unable to locate the name of any man, other than Carrington, who is in a position to speak with authority on fasting. Jackson's is a very valuable book, crammed with technical data and detailed experimental results, but lacking in any reference to the hygienic value of the fast.
Much valuable work has been done by laboratory experimenters, but it is obviously lacking in certain important particulars. For example, Morgulis points out that fasting decreases sugar tolerance in dogs, but in no other animal.
Indeed, he records that fasting is distinctly beneficial in diabetes in man. He records an experiment performed on fasting rats and pigeons in which the rats gave one result and the pigeons an exactly opposite result. In some species fasting diminishes the reaction to certain drugs, in other species it increases this reaction. In certain animals, such as the frog, some of the senses are diminished; while in man the senses are remarkably improved. So distinctive is this sign that we regard it as evidence that our patient is fasting.
Sight, taste, hearing, smell and touch are all acutened. Hearing and smell often become so acute that the faster is annoyed by noises and odors that are ordinarily unheard and unsmelled by him. Blindness, catarrhal deafness, sensory paralysis and loss of the senses of taste and smell have all been known to yield to the kindly influences of the fast. The cleansing of the system occasioned by fasting quickly revivifies the mental and sensory powers.
While fasting frequently produces temporary sterility in men, it has no such effect in salmon and seals. The gonads of salmon actually undergo a great increase in size while fasting, while both they and male seals fast during their entire mating season.
It is only right that I add that it is denied by some that salmon actually fast during this season. Child, of the University of Chicago, experimenting with worms, found that if a worm is fasted for a long time it does not die, but merely grows smaller and smaller, living on its own tissues for months. Then, after it has been reduced to a minimum size, if it is fed it begins to grow and starts life anew, as young as ever it was. While we know that fasting renews the human body, we also know that it will not renew it to the extent it does the body of the worm.
Man is not a worm, nor a dog, nor a pigeon, nor a rat. In a broad general sense, all animals are fundamentally alike; but there are specific differences, both in structure and function and in instinct and reaction as well as in individual needs, and for this reason it is always dangerous to reason from worm or dog to man.
This, however, does not hinder us from studying the similarities and differences existing between man and the sub-orders and making whatever use of these studies we may. It may be said that there is one particular in which all animals, including man, are alike; namely, their ability to go without food for prolonged periods and to profit by this. For the most part the regular profession has either ignored or else denounced fasting. Fasting is a fad or it is quackery.
They do not study it, do not employ it and do not endorse it. On the contrary, they declare that "the sick must eat to keep up their strength. It is gratifying to see that a change is under way. Just recently a meeting of famous medical consultants from different parts of the British Isles, was held at Bridge of Allen, Stirlingshire, Scotland. The conference was presided over by Sir Wm. These men urged the value of fasting in "disease.
Only a short time prior to this Sir Henry had said in the Daily Mail London that the "unqualified practitioners" were the ones who were curing their patients and added, "I am convinced that the result will be that heterodoxy, now claimed as their own possession by various unqualified healers, will become the medical orthodoxy and commonplace of the next generation.
The conference, instead of offering a little praise where it was long overdue, prepared, as Sir Henry had predicted, to steal the thunder of the "Natural Healers," branding these latter as "unqualified. In Lord Horder then Sir Thomas declared: What caused this eminent medical man to change his mind? Only one thing could have forced him to join the conference in endorsing prolonged fasting — namely: Are these Natural Hygienists unqualified?
Certainly the study of Materia Medica and years spent in administering drugs cannot qualify one to conduct fasts. No intelligent person can investigate the subject of fasting without endorsing it and without being struck by the marvelous results it produces. But this same intelligence should lead him to fast under the care of one who fully understands fasting in all its details. I will conclude this introduction with an endorsement of fasting by a physician of the highest standing, who, twenty years after he made the statement below, still endorses and employs fasting.
In Major Reginald F. In the meantime, I will live on my own tissues. Nutrition may be conveniently divided into two phases — positive and negative — corresponding to periods of eating and periods of abstaining from food. Negative nutrition has received the terms fasting, inanition, starvation. Fasting and starving are separate phenomenai well demarked from each other.
Inanition covers both these processes. Fast is derived from the Anglo-Saxon word, faest, which means "firm" or "fixed. Like most English words, the word fasting has more than one meaning. Thus, the dictionary defines fasting as "abstinence from food, partial or total, or from proscribed kinds of foods. We may define it thus: Fasting — is abstention, entirely or in part, and for longer or shorter periods of time, from food and drink or from food alone.
A misuse of the term, fasting, is quite common. I refer to the use of the word fasting when a particular diet is referred to. We read and hear of fruit fasts, water fasts, milk fasts, etc. A fruit fast is abstinence from fruit; a milk fast is abstinence from milk; a water fast is abstinence from water. The dictionary defines a diet as a "regulated course of eating and drinking, a specially prescribed regime.
The daily fare, victuals, allowance of food; rations. To take food; to eat. Fasting, as we employ the term, is voluntary and entire abstinence from all food except water. Page, "are not fasting. There should not be a mouthful or sip of anything but water, a few swallows of which would be taken from time to time, according to desire.
Inanition is a technical term literally meaning emptiness, which is applied to all forms and stages of abstinence from food and to many forms of malnutrition due to various causes, even though the person is eating. Morgulis classifies three types of inanition according to origin, as follows:. The inanition constitutes either a definite phase in the life cycle of the animal, it is a seasonal event, or it accompanies the periodic recurrence of sexual activity.
To this should be added a fourth classification, a class with which Prof. Morgulis seems to be very largely unacquainted, which is largely or wholly voluntary but in which abstinence from food is not for mere experimental purposes, but for the promotion or restoration of health. I prefer to call this hygienic fasting. Others refer to it as therapeutic fasting. Fasting of this type is not wholly voluntary in acute "disease," except in the sense that all instinctive action is voluntary.
It is the hygienic fast that we are chiefly concerned with in this volume, although we are going to make use of data gained from the other types of fasting that may be of service to us in better understanding and more intelligently conducting a fast.
In his Inanition and Malnutrition, Jackson says the term starvation "is more frequently used to indicate the extreme stages of inanition, leading to death. Too often the term starvation is applied to the whole period of abstinence from food from the first day to the end in death. Fasting is an absolutely different thing from starvation. One is beneficial; the other harmful. One is a valuable therapeutic measure; the other a death-dealing experiment.
A distinction must be made between fasting and starving, as will be seen as our study proceeds. Fasting is not starving. The difference between fasting and starving is immense and well demarcated. Hazzard expressed this fact in these words: Fasting consists in intentional abstinence from food by a system suffering from disease and non-desirous of sustenance until rested, cleansed, and ready for the labor of digestion. Fasting is neither a "hunger cure" nor a "starvation cure," as it is sometimes called.
The fasting person is not hungry, and fasting is not a method of treating or curing "disease. Page says, "The term frequently applied — 'starvation cure' — is both misleading and disheartening to the patient: Fasting is a rest — a physiological vacation. It is not an ordeal nor a penance. It is a house-cleaning measure which deserves to be better known and more widely used. In the study of fasting it is necessary that we approach the subject from many angles.
Perhaps no subject is less understood by the public and the "healing" professions than this oldest of means of caring for the sick body. We are justified in studying every phenomenon which may throw light upon the subject and thus enable us to better apply the fast in our dealings with the sick. The fasting habits of man and animals are all legitimate objects of study. Not alone the fasting practices of sick animals, but fasting in healthy animals, whether voluntary or enforced, will aid us in more clearly understanding this subject.
Particularly will such a study aid us in overcoming our cultivated fear of fasting. Hence the following studies. The more one attempts to find out about the habits and modes of living of animals, the more one is impressed with the paucity of our dependable accumulated knowledge of the animal kingdom.
Our biologists seem to be more intent upon classification than upon the important phases of life. If they study an animal, they prefer to kill it and dissect it, perhaps to mount it and place it in a case.
They are more intent upon a study of death than of life. All unconsciously, perhaps, they have converted biology into necrology. I have, however, after much searching, succeeded in accumulating a considerable amount of material about the fasting habits of many animals. This I here propose to discuss under its various heads, as I have classified it. That some animals fast during the mating season is well known, but our knowledge of the living habits of the animal kingdom is so meager that it is not known how many animals do so.
So far as it is at present known, fasting during the breeding season is very rare among mammals and birds. Among mammals where there is keen competition between the males for possession of the females, feeding is curtailed, but this is hardly a fast.
Quite a number of fishes fast during the breeding season, the female of the Cichlidae, or mouth breeders, must fast at this time. The best known example of fasting by fish during the mating season is that of the long fast of the male salmon. Morgulis describes in these words, the annual fast of the salmon: Fasting all their journey, which lasts many weeks and months, they are in a much emaciated condition when they get to the upper reaches of the rivers where the currents are rough and swift.
Freed from the fat, however, their muscles are now agile and nimble, and it is at this time that the salmon displays the marvellous endurance and skill admired by all sportsmen, in progressing steadily against all odds of the tumultuous current, waterfalls and obstructions. Penguins and the male goose are the only birds I find mentioned as fasting during the mating season. The gander loses about one-fourth of his body-weight during this period.
I have never heard that a gander fasted during the mating season and am inclined to question such a statement. The basis of his questioning is not very solid; he has never heard of it. It may be assumed that if it were true he would have heard of it, but no man knows everything in biology and this is out of his special field.
The other part of his objection, the high rate of metabolism of birds, is no basis at all. It only reveals that he knows little of fasting. It is not likely that the rate of metabolism of the male salmon is low while he swims hundreds of miles up-stream. His a priori doubts must be considered, they are not to be taken as final. The Alaskan fur seal bull is the best known example of fasting by a mammal during the mating season. I have no information on the rate of metabolism in this mammal, but I think we are safe in assuming that, since he is a warm blooded animal and, at the same time, extremely active during the whole of the fasting period, his metabolic rate is high.
During the entire three months breeding season of each year, the Alaskan fur seal bull does not eat nor drink although within easy reach of abundant food from May or the middle of June to the end of July or early days of August. After fighting for his place on the shore and for his harem of from five to sixty females, the male seal spends the summer fighting to keep his harem together and to keep his girls satisfied. Ray Chapman Andrews says, in his End of the Earth; "All through the summer he neither eats nor sleeps.
It is just one long debauch of fighting and love-making and guarding his harem against unscrupulous invaders. As a result of all this activity, Mr. Andrews says that "by September he is a wreck of his former self. All his fat has disappeared, for that is what he has been living on by absorption all summer.
His bones protrude, his side is torn and scarred, he is weary unto death. Blessed sleep is what he needs. Forsaking his harem, he waddles back into the long grass far away from the beach, there to stretch out in the warm sun.
He will sleep for three weeks on end without waking, if undisturbed. After long months of incessant physical and sexual activity, without food, the seal thinks first of rest and sleep. Food may be had after the long sleep. With man, also, despite popular prejudices to the contrary, there are times when rest is of more importance than food.
The sea lion also fasts during the mating season. Although less tempestuous, the domestic life of the sea lion is described as being very similar to that of the fur seals. Coming ashore sometime between the middle of May and early June, the summer is spent in fasting and sexual activities. By the end of summer, the master of the harem is exhausted and has lost much weight, but is still able to wearily slip down the sloping beach into the sea, where a few months of fat living restore his emaciated form.
The exertions of these sea lions, both sexual and physical, as they fight much, is described as tremendous. I have no information as to whether they, like the fur-seal bull, go without water during this period. What may be regarded as fasting during the mating season is the phenomenon seen among many insects which have but a short adult life. The caterpillar does little else than eat.
In certain species, after it becomes a butterfly, it never eats at all. Fabre showed that some insects have no provision for hunger, the digestive organs being absent in the fullest developed insects.
Perhaps such short-lived species as ephemera should not be considered in this connection. These insects come into the world in the evening, mate, the female lays her eggs and by morning both sexes are dead without ever having seen the sun.
Destined for little else than reproduction, they have no mouths and do not eat, neither do they drink. But the peacock butterfly, which often travels for miles in search of a mate and lives for a few days, though it has the merest semblance of a digestive apparatus, does not eat.
The insect world presents us with many examples of this kind. The pupal stage of insects which undergo metamorphosis, is that immediately following the larval stage. The term chrysalis has almost the same value as pupa. If the insect is not wholly quiescent during this pupal stage the word nymph is used. Since the larval stage of most insects differs so markedly from the adult stage, the pupal stage constitutes the intermediate stage in which the necessary bodily changes are effected. It is a period of internal transformation, during which most pupa are outwardly quiescent, they move very little, and do not eat at all.
The marvellous structural and functional transformations take place during this period of abstinence from food, the pupa depending entirely upon its stored reserves for the accomplishment of its structural revolution. Pupal sleep may be artificially prolonged. Fasts of longer or shorter durations are seen in many animals immediately after birth.
For example, Fabre tells us that certain spiders eat no food for the first six months of their lives, but feast upon sunbeams. Chickens take neither food nor water for the first three days after they hatch from the egg. In most mammals there is no milk secreted for three or more days after their young are born. The fluid, secreted during this period is devoid of food value. Many animals normally go for long periods between feedings, not eating for the reason that they are not hungry.
For example, there are many snakes that eat only at long intervals. An animal will refuse food when angry or excited. Indeed, an animal that is hungry and in the process of eating may be angered and will cease eating. Angry animals do not resume eating again until their anger has subsided. Reports of dogs grieving over the absence or death of their owners, refusing food for long periods, are often carried by the press. Some animals refuse to eat when held in captivity.
They will starve to death rather than live as captives thus making good Patrick Henry's ringing cry: Many thousands of animals of all kinds have been employed in experimental fasts. Insects, fishes, snakes, birds, rodents, rabbits, badgers, cows, horses, and many other types of animals have been used in fasts of varying lengths of time.
In many of these fasts, the period of abstinence from food has been extended far beyond the normal limit of the fast into the period of starvation, some of them being ended before death occurred, others being carried on to death. While we are opposed to the suffering caused in animals by pushing the period of abstinence beyond the return of hunger, it has been done and the information thus obtained is available, and we are at liberty to make use of it in our studies of the subject.
Many of these experimental fasts will be referred to as we proceed in our study. Biologists, physiologists and research workers of all kinds are very fond of animal experimentation. But all of these workers are in the habit of ignoring important parts of the regular activities of animals.
For example, they ignore, never mention, in fact, the numerous instances of dogs and other animals having fasted ten, twenty or more days when they, have received internal injuries or a broken bone. That a sick animal refuses food is well known to all laymen, but physiologists and biologists seem to think that this fact is unworthy, even, of mentioning.
Can we not learn from observing the normal and regular activities of animals living normal lives — must we assume that animals are capable of teaching us something only when under artificial conditions, and subjected to processes that they never encounter in the normal course of their existence? Oswald tells of a dog that had been put into the loft of a barn by the sergeant of a cavalry regiment. Losing its balance, while in the door of the loft and barking, it fell, turning a few somersaults as it came down, and landed on the hard pavement, "with a crack that seemed to have broken every bone in his body.
Investigation proved that he had broken two legs and three ribs, and judging by the way he raised his head and gasped for air, every now and then, it seemed probable that his lungs had been injured. For twenty days and twenty nights the little terrier stuck to life in its cotton-lined basket without touching a crumb of solid food, but ever ready to take a few drops of water, in preference even to milk or soup.
At the end of the third week it broke its fast with a saucerful of sweet milk, but only on the evening of the twenty-sixth day did it begin to betray any interest in a plateful of meat scraps. Irwin Liek, noted German physician and surgeon, tells of instinctive fasting in three of his dogs. One of these had been run over by a truck which had broken several bones and injured it internally.
The other had "devoured a considerable quantity of rat poison. It became very, very ill, suffered from diarrhea containing blood and pus" and "collapsed completely. All three of these dogs fasted and recovered.
Physiologists have persistently ignored cases where dogs have voluntarily fasted for ten or twenty or more days when suffering from broken bones or internal injuries. Here is an action invariably pursued by nature which they persist in refusing to investigate. It is said that the elephant, if wounded, and still able to travel, will go along with the rest of the herd and can be found supporting itself beside a tree while the remainder of the herd enjoys a hearty meal.
The wounded elephant is totally oblivious to the excellent food all around him. He obeys an instinct as unerring as the one that brings the bee to his hive; an instinct which is common to the whole animal world, man included.
I need but devote little space to a discussion of what every one already knows; namely, that the sick animal refuses all food. The farmer knows that his "foundered" horse will not eat — is "off his feed," as he expresses it. The sick cat, dog, cow or other animal refuses food. Animals will abstain from food when sick for days and weeks, refusing all food that may be offered them until they are well.
Wounded deer will retire to some secluded den and starve for weeks together. Erwin Liek, endorses fasting and observes that "small children and animals, guided by an infallible instinct, limit to the utmost their intake of food if they are sick or injured. Arthur Brisbane disapproved of fasting and took Mr. Sinclair to task for advocating it. After a lengthy correspondence about the matter, Mr. Brisbane acknowledged that "even dogs fast when they are ill.
A dog or cat, if sick or wounded, will crawl under the wood shed or retire to some other secluded spot and rest and fast until well. Occasionally he will come out for water. These animals will, when wounded or sick, persistently refuse the most tempting food when offered to them.
Physical and physiological rest and water are their remedies. A sick cow or horse will also refuse food. The author has seen this in many hundreds of cases. In fact, all nature obeys this instinct. Thus does nature teach us that the way to feed in acute "disease" is not to do it. Domestic cattle may often be found suffering from some chronic "disease.
Every stockman knows that when a cow, or horse, or hog, or sheep, etc. I need devote but little space to the fact that animals fast for shorter or longer periods in times of food scarcity when floods, droughts, storms, etc. It often happens in the lives of animals that they are forced to go for days at a time without food for the reason that they cannot find it.
They sometimes, though relatively rarely, perhaps, go so long without food that they die of starvation. Luckily, they possess sufficient reserves to enable them to go without food for prolonged periods and survive. Animals that enter the winter season with considerable fat, commonly emerge from winter rather thin due to the fact that they are forced to subsist on greatly reduced food supplies and often have to go for days at a time without food.
Even at the height of the food season insects may so completely destroy the food supply that many animals are forced to go for considerable periods without food. A number of accidental emergencies force both domestic and wild animals to fast at times. How frequently such accidents occur in nature, we are not in a position to say, but they are probably more frequent than we may suppose.
In his Curiosities of Instinct, Karl Vogt tells of the case of a spaniel which visitors had accidentally locked up in the attic of an old castle-ruin.
The dog had been able to secure a few drops of water by gnawing the edge of a cleft in a slate covered roof. A few heavy rain-showers had supplied him with water, but he had had no food of any kind — no grain, leather, rats or mice — during the whole summer and part of the autumn.
A picnic on the castle mountain during the first week in October resulted in his rescue by a wandering party of sight-seers. The ribs of the little prisoner; who had been locked up since the middle of June, could be counted as easily as in a skeleton, but he was still able to drag himself across the floor and lick the hands of his deliverers.
The following account of "Bum" appeared in Time for April 27, Stopping his ears, holding a knife in his teeth, he touched the knife to a pipe which went downward. Presently he could hear a distant moaning. Early in January he had found and adopted a mongrel puppy.
But after a few days the puppy, which he called 'Bum' disappeared. The same day, the hole over the excavation had been boarded up securely. The engine's noise must have drowned the dog's cries ever since. Some thought Bum must have lived by rat-catching; some cried: Local veterinarians were as ignorant of fasting as was a medical man who once roundly scored a woman who had undertaken to fast, under my direction, after he and several of his big priced colleagues specialists and medical professors had declared they did not know and could not find out what her trouble was and could do nothing for her.
He declared that if she went six days without food her heart would collapse and she would die. She had two fasts, one of twelve days, the other of thirteen, and recovered her health. The doctor came crawling back some three months later and apologized for his ungentlemanly and unprofessional conduct. An Associated Press dispatch from Warsaw, Ind. Buried under an avalanche of straw on the Oscar Rebman farm, east of Warsaw, on July 15, while threshing was in progress, she remained buried until Dec.
This was a period of days without food and water. The "Great Blizzard of '49" was so terrible that many men, women and children and much livestock in the West froze to death. Many sheep froze around the haystacks. Unusually heavy snows fell and in some places remained for long periods. The snow was deep and animals were buried. Several reports of animals being buried deep in the snow for long periods were published.
These are of special interest to us here, for the reason that these buried animals were deprived of food and of all possibility of obtaining food by the snow that covered them. The dispatch says that before the blizzard of Jan.
After the storm was over he could find but twenty of his pigs. He gave up, as lost, the missing pig. Forty-four days after the snow storm had buried the pig, Mr.
Sparks heard a grunt. Digging through several feet of snow he soon released the pig, which walked out under its own power and, although very thin, did not resume eating at once. A similar incident was reported by Jack Stotts of Cody, Wyo. John Lemke, a farmer, in Dupress, S. At the time of her burial she weighed three hundred pounds. She was skinny when rescued, but able to walk three quarters of a mile to a feed trough.
Brandt farm near Fort Morgan, Colo. A companion sheep was dead. The two sheep had eaten away a small portion of a wooden fence. Other than this, they had no food while buried in the snow. These are examples of burial of domestic animals. Wild animals must also frequently be buried by the snow and must remain for shorter or longer periods in their prisons. How many examples of burials similar to the foregoing burials of domestic animals that blizzard would have afforded, had they been recorded, we can only surmise.
As the snow of the blizzard blanketed many thousands of square miles of territory, wild life could not have escaped it. Small animals especially were buried. They were forced to live without eating during their burial. The ability of an animal to fast for long periods under such conditions, means the difference between surviving and perishing. Rabbits are well-known to be frequently buried in the snow.
If we could know just how often such things occur in nature and how many hundreds of thousands of animals are thus forced to go without food for considerable periods each year, we would probably find that the ability to fast is a very important means of survival.
All animals adapt themselves in some manner to the winter season. Winter is a difficult period for many plants and animals in northern countries. With its short days, low temperature, stormy weather, scarcity of food both animals and plants are faced with the problem of keeping alive under very unfavorable circumstances. Both animals and plants have found many solutions to this problem, adapting themselves to winter in a wide variety of ways.
Migration, as by birds, is but one of many solutions animals nave found tor this perplexing problem. Birds that migrate may lead a life as active in their southern homes as they do in their northern homes in the Spring and Summer.
This is not so of animals that do not migrate. Some animals store away supplies of food for this period. Bees store up honey, squirrels store away nuts, the mouse stores away food in various caches, the beaver stores twigs, gophers and chipmunks store up roots and nuts on which they feed when they awaken on an occasional warm day. On the colder days, these sleep and take no food. This is to say, many animals that store away food in various caches fast much during the winter months.
Other animals store their food supplies within themselves. These internal food supplies serve the animal as well as do the caches of food stored outside the body by other animals.
We may say, then, that some animals store up their winter food supply within themselves. Hibernation by those animals that depend upon internal stores during the winter season is the solution for the exigencies of winter that has been adopted by more forms of life than any other solution.
Bats, mice, hedgehogs, woodchucks, toads, newts, lizards, snakes, snails, flies, wasps, bees, and the great hosts of insects, bears, crocodiles, alligators, and many other animals do not migrate, but go into winter quarters. Animals that store up food outside themselves also carry internal supplies, for they, too, are often forced to go for extended periods without food.
Squirrels, for example, frequently forget where they have buried their store of nuts. Hibernation is a dormant state of existence, accompanied by greatly diminished respiration, circulation and metabolism, in which animals in the temperate regions spend the winter.
During this period the animal functions are nearly suspended; the body heat is lowered to or nearly that of the air, the action of the heart is much reduced and the animal loses from thirty to forty percent of its weight. During hibernation the mammal may not feed, depending entirely on the stored food reserves within the body. The evidence at hand indicates that in such instances the body weight may drop as much as fifty per cent.
Indeed, in bats, it drops more than this. In other animals food is stored within their winter nest and the hibernating animal awakens from time to time to consume its food. Griffin says that hibernation of bats and other animals is still in many respects a mystery to biologists. Hibernation is most common in cold-blooded animals that are unable to leave regions of severe winters, but it is also practiced by numerous warm-blooded animals.
Some biologists say that the term hibernation should be restricted to a few mammals and prefer the phrase "lying low and saying nothing" for what they describe as the coma or lethargy of many of the lower animals, like some frogs and fishes, many snails and insects.
Other biologists, although seeming to prefer to limit the term hibernation to the "winter sleep" of warmblooded animals, also include under this term, the "seasonal torpidity" of frogs, toads, reptiles, certain fishes, insects, the horseshoe crab and snails.
The relapsed life of some insect pupae, where the body of the larva i. The arrested development of other insect larvae, such as caterpillars and pupae, where the metamorphosis into the winged form has ceased for the time being, like a stopped watch. The suspended animation of small creatures, like bear animalcules some of them quaintly like microscopic hippopotami and wheel animalcules and small thread worms, in which we can detect no vitality for the time being.
The comatose state of snails and frogs, where we can see the heart beating, though the life of the body as a whole is at a very low ebb. The state of true hibernation, restricted to a few mammals, such as hedgehog and dormouse, marmot and bat.
This is a peculiar state very unlike normal sleep, with most of their vital functions, even excretion, in abeyance, with the heart beating very feebly and the breathing movements scarcely perceptible.
In all of these forms of 'lying low" the animals hide away and cease their activities and approach a state of suspended animation during the winter months. Hibernation, so common among animals appears, then, to be one aspect of the general tendency of animals to withdraw from an unfavorable environment.
In hibernation the animal passes through the unfavorable period of low temperature and food scarcity in a dormant state. Thus hibernation, like migration, is one of the means of solving the food problem during the period of acute scarcity. Mammals that hibernate are referred to by certain biologists as "imperfectly warm-blooded types," which are unable to produce enough animal heat to make good their losses in cold weather.
It is doubtful if this is true of those species in which only the female hibernates. Food scarcity, rather than depressed temperature, seems to be the chief reason for hibernation.
As estivation is practically identical with hibernation, only taking place under certain opposite conditions when it is hot rather than cold but where, as in hibernation, there is food scarcity, those mammals that estivate cannot be said to be "imperfectly warm-blooded types.
Hibernation resembles sleep and has been likened to a trance, but it is not sleep. The hibernating animal does sleep all or most of the time it hibernates, but hibernation is different from sleep. Sleep is not seasonal and is not occasioned by scarcity of food. Hibernation is prolonged and body temperature drops very low in this state whereas it tends to remain normal in sleep.
Heart beat and respiration are very low in hibernation, they are reduced but slightly in sleep. Excretion is suspended in hibernation, it may be increased in sleep. There is great loss of weight during hibernation, in sleep there may be a gain of tissue. Hibernation is confined to the cold season, sleep takes place throughout the year, both at night and in the day time and lasts but a tew minutes to a few hours at a time.
Griffin says that the "torpor of hibernation is much more prolonged than ordinary sleep. Is it correct to refer to hibernation as a comatose condition? Is the animal in a coma? Is the hibernation state one of torpor, lethargy, stupor? These terms are frequently used by biologists in describing the hibernating condition. Coma is defined as an "abnormal deep stupor occurring in illness or as a result of it," such as alcoholic coma, apoplectic coma, uremic coma, diabetic coma, coma vigil, etc.
It would be interesting to know what a normal coma is. Stupor is defined as a "condition of unconsciousness, torpor, stupor. A state analogous to hypnotism, or the first stage of hypnotism. Torpor is "numbness, abnormal inactivity, dormancy, apathy. Dormant is perhaps the better word, as the root dor means sleep, although, as previously pointed out, hibernation is not synonymous with sleep. Dormant means "being in a state resembling sleep, inactive, unused. Perhaps we can define hibernation as a dormant state of existence accompanied with greatly diminished respiration, circulation and metabolism in which many animals in the temperate regions pass the winter.
In hibernation the animal seeks out a secluded nook or burrow or a cave, where the temperature is higher than that outside and sinks into a strange reptile-like state. There it lies, or as in the case of the bat, hangs, in safety through the cold and storm. It eats nothing, it excretes nothing, the heart beats feebly, the breathing movements are scarcely perceptible — yet it survives.
Indeed, it seems certain that it would not survive otherwise. Thus, hibernation viewed biologically, is seen to be an adaptation to the cold of winter by which the animal is enabled to survive. Danger lies in sub-freezing weather for the hibernating mammal and many are frozen to death where their place of abode becomes too cold. Griffin says of the bat: Apparently no mammal can survive freezing when it is hibernating and its body temperature is at the mercy of the surrounding air temperature.
Most of the bats, he says, awaken and fly away to another and better sheltered cave, when the cave in which they are hibernating begins to get cold. Perhaps before we give our attention to hibernation among animals we may profitably take a hasty glance at the hibernating practices of plants. The "winter sleep" of trees, shrubs and many other plants is seen on every hand during winter.
With the approach of Fall, these shed their leaves, their sap descends and they exist in a dormant state until the coming of Spring. In like manner bulbs, tubers, etc. They take no carbon and nitrogen from the air and extract no minerals and nitrates from the soil. Metabolism is practically non-existent during this period.
The cessation of the flow of sap in trees during the winter season is similar to the almost ceasing of circulation in hibernating animals. Plants like the daffodil, onion, beet, turnip, etc. Their tops die off in the late Fall or early Winter and they lie dormant during the long Winter, only to send up new stems and leaves when Spring arrives. This storing up of food in their roots is similar to the storing of fat by the bear. Hibernation is common among insects and is seen in every group of vertebrates except birds, which substitute migration for hibernation.
It is largely found in insect and vegetable eating species. Hibernation occurs regularly throughout the winter in such invertebrates as snails, crustaceans, myriapods, insects, arachnids, and the lower vertebrates, such as reptiles, amphibians and some fresh-water fishes. Many mammals inhabiting the colder regions, especially species living on the ground, or whose principle sources of food are unavailable in the winter, are known to hibernate.
In such hibernating animals as the bat, ground-squirrel, marmot, hedgehog, or dormouse, the temperature of the body drops from its typical warm condition to one or two degrees Centigrade above that of the surrounding air.
In maximum dormancy the heart-rate is slowed considerably, sometimes to only one or two percent of the normal heart rate, the respiratory movements drop off to a similar extent and determination of oxygen consumption indicates a reduction to as low as three to five per cent of normal consumption. During hibernation the animal may not feed, depending entirely upon the stored food reserves within his body. The evidence at hand indicates that in such cases the body weight may drop as much as fifty per cent.
In other cases food is stored within the winter nest and the hibernating animal awakens from time to time to consume its food. In winter there are periods of fasting in those animals that hibernate only in a limited sense. Mice and squirrels, for example, that store food for the winter, often sleep for days at a time, without eating. The bear is a typical hibernator, although not all bears hibernate.
For example, the American grizzly bear does not. In the Himalayan or Asiatic black bear, hibernation is not complete as the bear comes out on warm winter days to feed. The brown bear, on the other hand, hibernates. In several species of bear only the female dens up in winter and appears to undergo a partial hibernation during which the young are born, the young cubs and the emaciated mother emerging in the Spring.
The Polar bear is an example of this kind. The black bear, native to North America, gives birth to two or three cubs while hibernating. At birth these cubs are naked and blind, and are but eight inches long. Hibernating bears are believed not to attain full dormancy. The big black bear of northern Russia retires to a bed of leaves and moss about the end of November and "sleeps," if not disturbed, until about the middle of March; living during this time, upon the nutritive supplies stored in his own tissues.
The fat, or well-fed bear will begin to fast some weeks before he retires to his den for his long winter's "sleep. Nearly all the burrowing rodents hibernate. Notable exceptions are gophers, chipmunks and squirrels which store up roots and nuts on which they feed when an occasional warm day induces them to arouse. On the colder days even these hibernate.
The prairie dog and squirrel are said to be partial hibernators. In the northern part of his range the badger hibernates during the winter. He passes through a long winter without eating. After an absolute fast of ten weeks he will trot for miles in search of acorns or roots which he may then be forced to dig out of the half-frozen ground.
The dormouse sleeping mouse a term applied in the old world to a small squirrel-like rodent and in the U. He makes himself very comfortable by weaving a thick network of dry grass into his winter bedclothes. This is so neatly and skillfully designed that it keeps in the heat and, yet permits a fair amount of air slowly to filter through.
So carefully does he fill up the hole in his warm light wrapping, after he goes inside, there is no hint of a joint or a weak place. Here he spends a long winter of five months in deep "sleep" with no food and often loses more than forty per cent of his weight during this period. The hibernating habits of different species of bats differ so much that it is difficult to generalize. There is some evidence that some bats migrate upon the approach of winter, but most of them hibernate.
Bats live on winged insects and must catch their prey in the air. Their feeding days are limited, except in the South, where insects fly about for a longer season. Indeed, their feeding days must be very short if frost comes early in Autumn. Their period of hibernation may be more than half a year.
Their death-like inactivity is made necessary because of the need to make their meagre supply of stored food hold out over such a long period of time. In the long winters of the north, hibernation often means going without food for five, six and seven months. If bats are to survive, it is essential that their food resources be made to hold out as long as possible.
Bats cluster in masses, usually in caves, old barns, and other places that offer protection from the inclemencies of winter. The hibernating bat appears in all respects dead. Its temperature sinks very low, its heart beats so feebly it is barely perceptible, and it takes long to awaken from its sleep. One naturalist describes the "winter sleep" of bats in the following words: They grow cold, their heart beats feebly, and when they hang themselves head downward on some dusty beam or crouch in some smouldering wood, they might be taken for lumps of leather.
Nothing about them suggests a living creature, and no one would imagine for a moment that they would presently be flying with a dash and a skill and a command of quick turns beyond the power of a bird.
Griffin says of the hibernating bat, "the heart rate slows to a point where it cannot be detected. The blood moves sluggishly. The body temperature falls almost to that of the surroundings. They feel cold to handle, and are stiff and unresponsive. It requires close observation to distinguish a hibernating bat from a dead one. There is evidence that bats may awaken spontaneously during the winter and fly around in their cave, even in rare instances, flying considerable distances to other caves.
Griffin says that "they are not continuously dormant throughout the whole winter. On successive visits to the same cave we usually found the bats in different parts of the passages, even when they were not disturbed on the previous visit. Probably they wake up from time to time and fly about a bit, perhaps occasionally wandering out of the cave to see whether spring has come yet, and then hang themselves up again for another long sleep.
While hibernating mammals seek caves, dens or hollow logs, usually making themselves dens of dry leaves or grass to sleep through the winter, the lower orders remain buried throughout the winter with the body temperature approximately that of the external environment, and with great decrease in metabolism. Reptiles hide away among stones or pits or caves, often coiling together, to form a huge, inert mass.
Frogs, lizards, salamanders and certain fishes bury themselves in the earth below the reach of frost, the aquatic forms digging into the mud at the bottom of the stream.
The few fishes which are known to lie dormant and take no food, sink into the mud of the streams or of the sea. Some fish, as the carp, lie quiet on mud bottoms. The horseshoe crab buries into the mud beyond the reach of oyster dredges in November, remaining in deep water until the middle of Spring. Because snakes hibernate so deep below the ground that frost never reaches them, they live further north than any other reptile.
Spiders and snails hibernate under stones, moss, etc. As cold weather comes and winter approaches the purely aquatic species of frogs take to the water and burrow into the moist mud at the bottom of the ponds below the frost line. Here they hibernate throughout the winter, becoming cold and dormant, where the climate is severe, until revived in the Spring.
Others bore into the soil, or beneath the fallen leaves, or into the rotting stumps, etc. During this period, most of the life activities of the frog cease. The heart beats very slowly and there is little evidence of life. The frog does not breathe through its lungs during this period but takes in oxygen through its skin. Toads also hibernate through winter.
Hibernating frogs and toads take no food, being dependent during this time on the food reserves stored in their bodies as fat and glycogen. All activities are suspended except those necessary to maintain life, such as the beating of the heart.
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