Some aspects of the hematology and immunology of the hibernating and non-hibernating woodchuck (Marmota monax)

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Department of Biological Sciences


1. 1. The hematocrit, hemoglobin, red blood cell count, white blood cell count and differential blood smear were followed for a period of 1 year in the woodchuck (Marmota monax). 2. 2. It was concluded that there was no significant hemoconcentration in the woodchuck during the hibernation period. Thus the red blood cell count, white blood cell count, hematocrit and hemoglobin did not appear to be significantly increased during hibernation. The same was true of serum values of lipid, cholesterol and protein previously recorded. 3. 3. The differential count of blood smears revealed a marked variation in the types of white blood cells encountered throughout the year. Neutrophiles were increased during the hibernation period and the lymphocytes were decreased. There is little variation in the monocytes, eosinophiles and basophiles. 4. 4. Anti sera was prepared by injecting special preparations of woodchuck serum into rabbits. Immunoelectrophoresis was performed on these sera and comparison made between humans and hibernating and non-hibernating animals. 5. 5. No major differences were observed between hibernating and nonhibernating animals. It was noted, however, that the band in the fibrinogen region was greatly decreased or absent in hibernating animals. It is thought that this may be the reason that the clotting mechanism of blood is inhibited during hibernation.

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Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology -- Part A: Physiology