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Aestivation vs. Hibernation: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Harlon Moss || Updated on October 10, 2023
Aestivation is a dormant state during hot, dry periods; hibernation is a similar state during cold winters to conserve energy.

Key Differences

Aestivation refers to the voluntary inactivity exhibited by some animals during the summer or dry periods to avoid desiccation and excessive heat. On the flip side, hibernation is the kind of dormancy that occurs primarily in winter, where animals conserve energy by significantly reducing their metabolic rate.
In terms of purpose, aestivation primarily serves to protect organisms from harsh, arid, and hot conditions by reducing their metabolic activity and therefore conserving moisture. Hibernation, conversely, allows animals to survive during cold periods when food is scarce, by utilizing stored energy slowly.
The metabolic rate during aestivation is considerably lowered, allowing animals to survive for long periods without food and water. While during hibernation, animals also exhibit a dramatically reduced metabolic rate, conserving energy and surviving off stored fat reserves.
Physiologically, aestivation involves mechanisms to prevent dehydration, such as producing concentrated urine and reducing sweat. In contrast, during hibernation, an animal’s body temperature, heart rate, and breathing rate decrease substantially to conserve energy.
Typically, aestivation is practiced by animals like snails, crocodiles, and some amphibians. Hibernation is commonly associated with mammals like bears, bats, and hedgehogs, although it is also observed in other animal groups.

Comparison Chart

Grammatical Type



Four (Aes-ti-va-tion)
Four (Hi-ber-na-tion)

Word Origin

Latin (aestivatio, from aestas ‘summer’)
Latin (hibernatio(n-), from hibernare ‘spend the winter’)

Use in Sentences

Usually used as a subject or object
Typically used as a subject or object

Related Terms

Dormancy, torpor
Dormancy, torpor

Aestivation and Hibernation Definitions


Aestivation serves as a strategy to conserve energy and avoid desiccation.
Some snails use aestivation to retain moisture by sealing themselves in their shells.


Hibernation is a state of prolonged inactivity during winter months.
Bears are well known for their deep hibernation during winter.


Aestivation involves entering a state of dormancy during hot and dry periods.
The desert toad undergoes aestivation to survive the harsh summer.


Hibernation serves to conserve energy when external conditions are harsh.
Hedgehogs utilize hibernation to survive the winter when food is scarce.


Aestivation involves metabolic rate reduction to minimize water loss.
Through aestivation, the lungfish can survive extended periods without water.


Hibernation may involve periods of torpor interspersed with brief active periods.
Even in hibernation, some mammals experience brief moments of arousal and activity.


Aestivation typically occurs in arid and semiarid environments to endure drought.
During aestivation, certain animals seclude themselves in burrows to escape the dry conditions.


Hibernation is a survival strategy exhibited by various mammals, birds, and insects.
Bumblebees utilize hibernation to preserve the queen through the winter.


Aestivation is exhibited by various species, including amphibians, insects, and reptiles.
The African bullfrog performs aestivation by encasing itself in a mucous cocoon.


Hibernation involves physiological changes, including decreased metabolic rate.
During hibernation, ground squirrels exhibit a significant drop in body temperature.


Variant of estivation.


To be in a dormant or torpid state during a cold period, especially during the winter.


(biology) A state of inactivity and metabolic depression during summer: the summer version of hibernation.


To be in an inactive or dormant state or period
"In Lawrenceville people hibernated and life passed them by" (Jacqueline Susann).


(botany) The arrangement (vernation) of the parts of a flower inside a bud; prefloration.


What is aestivation?

Aestivation is a state of dormancy in hot, dry periods to conserve moisture and energy.

What is hibernation?

Hibernation is a form of dormancy during winter, reducing metabolic activity to conserve energy.

Can hibernation occur in regions with milder winters?

Yes, hibernation can occur in regions with milder winters if food scarcity or environmental stressors drive organisms to conserve energy through dormancy.

How do organisms breathe during aestivation?

Organisms typically reduce their respiratory rates during aestivation, and some, like amphibians, might rely on cutaneous (skin) respiration.

How do animals prepare for hibernation?

Animals prepare for hibernation by accumulating fat reserves and often seeking or creating sheltered locations to endure the winter.

What animals commonly undergo aestivation?

Animals like snails, some fish, and amphibians commonly undergo aestivation.

Is aestivation common in desert environments?

Yes, aestivation is quite common in desert environments, helping organisms to survive extreme heat and dry conditions.

What triggers aestivation in animals?

Factors like elevated temperatures, decreased water availability, and food scarcity typically trigger aestivation in animals.

Is hibernation the same in all animal species?

No, hibernation can vary among species in aspects like duration, depth of torpor, and physiological changes.

Can aestivation occur in aquatic environments?

Yes, aestivation can occur in aquatic animals, like certain fish species, to survive dry periods by burrowing into the substrate and reducing metabolic activity.

Do animals in hibernation eat or drink?

Generally, animals in hibernation do not eat or drink and survive using stored fat reserves.

Is aestivation seen in mammals?

Yes, aestivation is observed in some mammals, such as the African hedgehog, to evade high temperatures and desiccation.

How is energy conserved during aestivation?

During aestivation, metabolic rates are lowered, physiological functions are minimized, and physical activity is reduced to conserve energy.

How does hibernation conserve energy?

Hibernation conserves energy by significantly lowering metabolic rates, utilizing stored fat.

How do animals know when to come out of hibernation?

Animals often emerge from hibernation due to internal biological clocks and external environmental cues, like rising temperatures.

Do animals sleep during hibernation?

Hibernation is a state of dormancy with significantly reduced metabolic activity, different from regular sleep but it can resemble a deep, prolonged sleep.

Can any organism aestivate or hibernate?

Not all organisms aestivate or hibernate; these adaptations are specific to certain species that have evolved to cope with environmental stresses.

How does aestivation prevent dehydration?

Aestivation prevents dehydration through mechanisms like reducing metabolic and physical activity, and in some animals, secreting substances to limit moisture loss.

How do animals recover from aestivation?

After aestivation, animals gradually resume their metabolic and physical activities, often prompted by environmental changes like rainfall or cooler temperatures.

Can human activities impact animals' hibernation patterns?

Yes, human activities, such as habitat disruption and climate change, can impact the hibernation patterns of various species.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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