If you’ve visited the Sanctuary lately you may have noticed a few animals are ‘missing in action’... Randall the Echidna, our snakes and our blue tongue lizards have noticed the colder weather and gone into torpor.
What is torpor? Torpor is probably more well known as ‘hibernation’ - but hibernation is only used if the animal goes into torpor in winter. If it was summertime, it’d be known as ‘aestivation’. It helps animals survive periods of reduced food availability.
Torpor is simply state when the body temperature, metabolism, respiration and heart rate are lowered...so basically an energy saving mechanism! Torpor enables animals to survive periods of reduced food availability.
Although our lovely residents don’t have to worry about food, it’s completely natural for them to go into torpor when it gets colder.
Where do the animals go? Our snakes enjoy cozying up under their rocks (where the winter sun keeps them nice and warm), our blue tongues move up to the Bush Tucker Shed verandah where they have three snug enclosures, and Randall has a few warm hidey holes in his enclosure that he will snuggle up in.
Randall, now in his 3rd year with Bonorong, might have figured out he doesn’t have to sleep all through winter… occasionally you’ll see him pop out of his den for a little mid-winter snack before tucking back in for another snooze. (Winter is also breeding time for echidnas… so don’t be surprised if you see them out and about!)
What a life!
When will they come out again? There’s no exact date -- they’ll all come out when they feel it’s warm enough -- usually late spring or early summer.