After November, who among us did not fantasize about hibernating for months? Like bears, we’ve been in a state of (emotional) torpor all winter — and torpor, as described in a delightful article in today’s New York Times, is anything but restful. It turns out that emerging from long periods of inactivity is stressful, and animals respond in highly gendered ways. You’ll want to read the full article, but here are our favorite outtakes:
When it gets warm, the first thing honeybees do is take flight and defecate all over the place. They don’t want to soil their hives, so they’ve been saving their waste all winter.
With no parenting responsibilities, and perhaps to avoid competing with the females, males will stay in torpor for longer — making their hibernation spaces real man caves in the spring.
Males shrink their testes and stop testosterone production, which means they must experience puberty every spring. When they awaken in mid-March, they live off a cache of seeds, berries, mushrooms and willow leaves while sexually maturing and bulking up.
When they surface in mid-April, the world outside is still covered in snow and temperatures can be as low as minus 20 degrees Fahrenheit. But the males are charged up. For two weeks, testosterone will surge through their bodies and impel them to storm the tundra, competing with other males for mates, sometimes to the death.
These indignities would have been worth it all if we, too, could have slept through the first few months of Trump’s presidency.