brumation

noun bru·ma·tion \ brü-ˈmā-shən \

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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Origin and Etymology of 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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