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Portrait of a hibernating Arctic ground squirrel (Spermopilus parryii) at the University of Alaska at Fairbanks. This animal is the grand champion of all hibernators. It’s the only mammal that can drop its body temperature to below freezing. They hibernate for seven months. Females go in first, in August. Males follow a month later. They come out again to feed on tundra plants in May. Biologists at UAF have been studying the animal for 20 years, but still can’t figure out how this animal maintains a flat body temperature for all those months just above freezing. “You could put people into hibernation for space trips if you could understand it better,” said Franziska ‘Fran’ Kohl, one of the biologists here. “They also show symptoms of Alzheimers during hibernation.” She added that traumatic head injuries heal when in hibernation, another thing scientists are trying to figure out.

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Portrait of a hibernating Arctic ground squirrel (Spermopilus parryii) at the University of Alaska at Fairbanks. This animal is the grand champion of all hibernators. It’s the only mammal that can drop its body temperature to below freezing. They hibernate for seven months. Females go in first, in August. Males follow a month later. They come out again to feed on tundra plants in May. Biologists at UAF have been studying the animal for 20 years, but still can’t figure out how this animal maintains a flat body temperature for all those months just above freezing. “You could put people into hibernation for space trips if you could understand it better,” said Franziska ‘Fran’ Kohl, one of the biologists here. “They also show symptoms of Alzheimers during hibernation.” She added that traumatic head injuries heal when in hibernation, another thing scientists are trying to figure out.

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Portrait of a hibernating Arctic ground squirrel (Spermopilus parryii) at the University of Alaska at Fairbanks. This animal is the grand champion of all hibernators. It’s the only mammal that can drop its body temperature to below freezing. They hibernate for seven months. Females go in first, in August. Males follow a month later. They come out again to feed on tundra plants in May. Biologists at UAF have been studying the animal for 20 years, but still can’t figure out how this animal maintains a flat body temperature for all those months just above freezing. “You could put people into hibernation for space trips if you could understand it better,” said Franziska ‘Fran’ Kohl, one of the biologists here. “They also show symptoms of Alzheimers during hibernation.” She added that traumatic head injuries heal when in hibernation, another thing scientists are trying to figure out.

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A young western gray squirrel (Sciurus griseus) at Wildlife Images, an animal rehabilitation center near Merlin, Oregon.

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A young western gray squirrel (Sciurus griseus) at Wildlife Images, an animal rehabilitation center near Merlin, Oregon.

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A young western gray squirrel (Sciurus griseus) at Wildlife Images, an animal rehabilitation center near Merlin, Oregon.

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A young western gray squirrel (Sciurus griseus) at Wildlife Images, an animal rehabilitation center near Merlin, Oregon.

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A young western gray squirrel (Sciurus griseus) at Wildlife Images, an animal rehabilitation center near Merlin, Oregon.

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A young western gray squirrel (Sciurus griseus) at Wildlife Images, an animal rehabilitation center near Merlin, Oregon.

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A young western gray squirrel (Sciurus griseus) at Wildlife Images, an animal rehabilitation center near Merlin, Oregon.

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A young western gray squirrel (Sciurus griseus) at Wildlife Images, an animal rehabilitation center near Merlin, Oregon.

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A young western gray squirrel (Sciurus griseus) at Wildlife Images, an animal rehabilitation center near Merlin, Oregon.

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A young western gray squirrel (Sciurus griseus) at Wildlife Images, an animal rehabilitation center near Merlin, Oregon.

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A young western gray squirrel (Sciurus griseus) at Wildlife Images, an animal rehabilitation center near Merlin, Oregon.

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A young western gray squirrel (Sciurus griseus) at Wildlife Images, an animal rehabilitation center near Merlin, Oregon.

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A northern flying squirrel (Glaucomys sabrinus) (three months old, male) at Wildlife Images, a rehabilitation center near Merlin, OR.

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A northern flying squirrel (Glaucomys sabrinus) (three months old, male) at Wildlife Images, a rehabilitation center near Merlin, OR.

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A northern flying squirrel (Glaucomys sabrinus) (three months old, male) at Wildlife Images, a rehabilitation center near Merlin, OR.

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A northern flying squirrel (Glaucomys sabrinus) (three months old, male) at Wildlife Images, a rehabilitation center near Merlin, OR.

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A northern flying squirrel (Glaucomys sabrinus) (three months old, male) at Wildlife Images, a rehabilitation center near Merlin, OR.

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A northern flying squirrel (Glaucomys sabrinus) (three months old, male) at Wildlife Images, a rehabilitation center near Merlin, OR.

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A northern flying squirrel (Glaucomys sabrinus) (three months old, male) at Wildlife Images, a rehabilitation center near Merlin, OR.

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A northern flying squirrel (Glaucomys sabrinus) (three months old, male) at Wildlife Images, a rehabilitation center near Merlin, OR.

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A northern flying squirrel (Glaucomys sabrinus) (three months old, male) at Wildlife Images, a rehabilitation center near Merlin, OR.

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An arctic ground squirrel (Spermophilus parryii) investigates some logs for food in Prudhoe Bay, Alaska.

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A southern flying squirrel (Glaucomys volans) at Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo.

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A southern flying squirrel (Glaucomys volans) at Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo.

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A southern flying squirrel (Glaucomys volans) at Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo.

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A southern flying squirrel (Glaucomys volans) at Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo.

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A southern flying squirrel (Glaucomys volans) at Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo.

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A squirrel explores a camera set up at Waveland farm near Lincoln, NE.

Photo: Julie Jensen Director of Marketing | WVC O: 866.800.7326 | D: 702.443.9249 | E: j.jensen@wvc.org

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