From the Burrow: I was just resting my eyes   Leave a comment

Now that it’s flower time and we can sit outside in the Sun, I thought I’d talk about what we marmots, and some other animals, do in the cold-time. The men call it hibernation (although I don’t think the men hibernate because there always seem to be men around).

Hibernation is just sleeping, warm and comfortable in our burrow, for a long time. Some animals – like us marmots, and some squirrels, and sometimes mice, sleep almost the entire cold-time. We can wake up if we’re bothered or frightened, but we usually go right back to sleep once we know everything’s safe. Other animals like bears and some bats sleep most of the cold-time, but they wake up more often and move around a bit. When all animals wake up from their long hibernation-sleep, we’re groggy and still half-asleep. Don’t bother a bear when he just wakes up, he might be in a bad mood! Of course I wouldnt’ do that, but I once heard of someone who did!

As far as I know, only animals that have nice well-dug burrows hibernate. Of course marmots dig all kinds of burrows and tunnels and holes, but we dig special burrows just for sleeping. Other animals that have burrows too, like rabbits and rats and foxes and some kinds of lizards, don’t hibernate and live outside all year. I don’t know why because it’s nice to take a long nap, but that’s just the way things are. Everyone to their own I always say.

Before any animal hibernates, it eats and drinks a lot. We have to have enough to last us through the entire cold-time. Then the entire time we’re asleep we don’t eat or drink or poop or pee, even when we wake up for short periods. But we’re REALLY hungry when we wake up.

Sometimes when the Sun is high in the sky and it’s so very hot and there’s not much water or fresh grass to be found we go underground to sleep though the dry-times. The men have a word for this too – aestivation. (The men seem to have a word for everything). I don’t think many other animals sleep in the dry-times, like we marmots do. Maybe some lizards or snakes in the hot, hot desert where there are no flowers at all. Cold-time sleeping – hibernation – and sleeping during the hottest-times – aestivation – is not just animals being lazy or tired, but it’s a way we survive difficult times when there’s little to eat or drink. I heard once that there’s one kind of bird that hibernates – I think his name was Poor-Will or something like that – but I’ve never known a bird that lives in a burrow.

There’s never a time, hot or cold, when men aren’t working in the ground, and what they do doesn’t make any sense. They dig giant burrows (that they never seem to live in), and then fill-in those burrows they just dug, and they move giant machines over the ground, and they even dig holes and then put bad things in the holes that can make us sick. They sometimes dig where animals are asleep, and then it’s very very bad. Animals can be buried or hurt or even worse. If our burrow home is destroyed, sometimes we can move in with a friend, but usually we have nowhere to go and we are trapped outside. For a marmot and other animals that live underground, there’s nothing worse than being trapped outside where danger can find you. In the cold-time the ground is too hard to dig another burrow, and in the dry-time it’s too hot and there’s no water or food to keep us strong. Don’t the men know or care animals are underground? Can’t they wait to do their work? Maybe if the men thought about it, they would understand there’s a time for digging, and a time for napping.

– Michonne

Posted May 23, 2012 by Michonne Marmot in View From the Burrow

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