This study examined seasonal changes in body weight, hibernation period, and body temperature of the Japanese badger (Meles meles anakuma) from 1997 to 2001. Adult badgers showed seasonal changes in body weight. Between mid-December and February, badger activity almost ceased, as the animals remained in their setts most of the time. Adult male badgers were solitary hibernators; adult females hibernated either alone or with their cubs and/or yearlings. The total hibernation period of Japanese badgers ranged from 42 to 80 days, with a mean length of 60.1 days. Japanese badgers did not always spend the winters in the same sett, although they seldom changed setts during hibernation. I equipped a male cub with an intraperitoneally implanted data logger to record its body temperature between November and April, while the cub hibernated with its mother. Over the winter, the body weight of the cub decreased from 5.3 kg to 3.6 kg, a weight loss of 32.1%, and its body temperature ranged from 32.0 to 39.8°C. The mean monthly body temperature was 35.1°C in December, 34.8°C in January, 35.9°C in February, 37.1°C in March, and 37.4°C in April, so the monthly decrease in body temperature of this cub was not great. The results indicate that during hibernation, when body temperature is low, there is likely considerable economy of energy and a reduced demand for adipose reserves.
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