Thursday, June 23, 2016

Cool It!

In the good old summertime - think shade trees, cold drinks, swimming pools, air conditioning, all ways for us to cool it.  But what about the animals?

No Sweat: According to Smithsonian Magazine, humans, higher primates, horses, and some dogs who sweat from their paws, are the only animals who can cool down by means of perspiration.

Straight Poop:  Some species of storks and vultures defecate on their legs, creating a sort of evaporative cooler that carries heat away and lowers their body temperature.

Shake or Bake:  Other birds such as pelicans, herons, doves, owls, quail, and nighthawks vibrate muscles and bones in their throat to increase cooling evaporation through the throat membranes.  This is called ‘gular fluttering.”

The Ears Have It:  Rabbits and elephants regulate temperature with their ears; rabbits can constrict or dilate blood vessels in their ears to encourage heat loss or preserve heat.  Elephants can fan themselves with their large ears, at the same time cooling the blood flowing through the ears.

Spa Treatment:  Wallowing in mud helps cool pigs, hippos, boars, and buffalo; as the mud slowly dries it cools by evaporation.

Sleep It Off:  Animals can slow their metabolism to get through extreme heat and times of scarce food through the process of estivation.

Pant, Pant, Pant:  Not only dogs but also birds may pant to expel hot air and draw cooler air into the lungs as quickly as possible to lower body temperature.

Got It Made in the Shade:  Like humans, animals can avoid overheating by retreating to shady areas.

Shedding:  According to the Illinois Extension Service, in springtime, hormones cause once dense coats to fall out gradually, until a lighter summer coat is in place

Wet 'n’ Wild: All types of animals need water for hydration and many cool off by taking a dip. You can provide ground level water containers for amphibians such as turtles, toads and frogs, and bird baths for your backyard feathered friends.

See how many of these means of cooling it you can observe on your next visit to Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge!

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