It’s bulking season: How Arctic ground squirrels use steroids to bulk up for winter

As many of you know, groundhog-like rodents (i.e. squirrels) need to increase muscle mass in order to survive winter hibernation in their deep-frozen Arctic burrows.  Yet squirrels pumped up on “roids” run wild across the Canadian Tundra all winter long without ever succumbing to nasty side-effects like “roid rage”.  A new study conducted by Boonstra et al. (2014) show’s that squirrels have “jury-rigged their genetic system in a certain way so that when they are getting ready to hibernate, their muscle sees and responds to the steroids, but the rest of their body generally does not.” Pretty interesting way to combat the cold weather, don’t you think?

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Reference: http://rsbl.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/10/11/20140734.short

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