bru·​ma·​tion | \ brü-ˈmā-shən How to pronounce brumation (audio) \

Definition of brumation

: a state or condition of sluggishness, inactivity, or torpor exhibited by reptiles (such as snakes or lizards) during winter or extended periods of low temperature This subterranean torpor is not a true hibernation … but a cold-blooded version of slowing down called brumation. — Keith Winsten, Florida Today (Brevard County), 22 Nov. 2008

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First Known Use of brumation

1965, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for brumation

Latin brūma “winter solstice, midwinter” + (hibern)ation

Note: Term introduced by the American zoologist Wilbur W. Mayhew (born 1920) in “Hibernation in the Horned Lizard Phrynosoma m’calli,” Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology, vol. 16, no. 1 (September, 1965), pp. 116: “ … it seems advisable to have one term to designate winter dormancy in heterotherms and another for such [in] ectotherms. Hibernation has been used to denote this condition in heterotherms particularly, so it seems best to retain this term for that group of vertebrates. Therefore, I propose the terms brumation (from bruma, L. winter) to indicate winter dormancy in ectothermic vertebrates that demonstrate physiological changes which are independent of body temperature.”

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The first known use of brumation was in 1965

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Cite this Entry

“Brumation.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Jan. 2021.

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