These mice hibernate for up to 9 months under the snow (Source: Claudia Bieber)

Hibernation may slow ageing

Wednesday, 6 February 2013
Anna Salleh

Hibernation slows down the shortening of telomeres, and could explain why some rodents live longer than other animals, say researchers.

The findings, from a study of captive rodents, are published today in Biology Letters.

“These results suggest hibernating animals age slower,” says ecologist Dr Christopher Turbill, of the Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment at the University of Western Sydney.

When animals hibernate, their body temperature and metabolism drops, reducing the amount of energy they require.

This enables them to get through a long cold winter when there’s no food about, and to maintain a decent body weight so they are ready to pounce into action come spring.

Past research suggests the more time animals spend hibernating, the longer they live.

But while this suggests hibernation slows the rate of ageing, the longer life span could be due to some other factor, says Turbill.

Read more: Hibernation may slow ageing › News in Science (ABC Science).

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