There are some squirrels that, unlike others, simply collect food for the winter, hibernate, reduce metabolism and, in particular, heart rate. Only one of these species, Ictidomys tridecemlineatus, has been studied by a team of researchers.

Protein manages to reduce heart rate and body temperature, as well as other metabolic processes, by going into hibernation and minimizing energy consumption, as bears do.

To find out how these proteins suppress their thirst, one of the basic needs that can cause them to awaken, researchers have analyzed their blood, dividing them into three groups: before hibernation, in a state of complete hibernation and in a state of non-hibernation.

The researchers noted that the concentration of serum, a thirsty substance in many animals, including humans, was unusually low. Squirrels did not drink a drop of water even after waking up, until the researchers themselves artificially increased the serum in their blood.

They then found that they could regulate blood concentrations by removing electrolytic substances such as sodium, glucose and urea, moving them to other parts of the body, especially the bladder. In this way, they may have remained moisturized.


Sources & Recommended Reading:

https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2019/10/here-s-how-hibernating-squirrels-live-months-without-water

https://www.cell.com/current-biology/fulltext/S0960-9822(19)30883-8