解析库 > Barron
A few rodent species demonstrate conditions that are neither complete hibernation nor aestivation. Instead of going into a long "sleep" during the most adverse season, they become torpid for a few hours each day. This kind of behavior is known in other animals-bats become torpid during daytime, and hummingbirds at night. The first time I appreciated this phenomenon was while working with fat mice (Steatomys) in Africa. These mice, incidentally, have a most appropriate name, for their bodies are so full of fat they resemble little furry balls. Fat storage as a method of survival has rebounded to some extent as far as the fat mice are concerned. They are regarded as a succulent delicacy by many African tribes who hunt them with great tenacity; when captured, the mice are skewered and fried in their own fat. A captive fat mouse was once kept without food or water for thirty-six days; at the end of that time it had lost a third of its weight but appeared quite healthy. During the dry season, some captives spent the day in such a deep state of torpor that they could be roughly handled without waking. The body temperature was a couple of degrees above room temperature and the respiration was most irregular, several short pants being followed by a pause of up to three minutes. Just before dusk the mice woke up of their own accord and respired normally. In this case the torpid state was not induced by shortage of food or abnormal temperatures. The forest dormouse of southern Asia and Europe also undergoes periods of torpidity during the day; this species has been recorded as having pauses of up to seventeen minutes between breaths.