SINGAPORE – While air-conditioning helps people stay cool, animals in the wild have found other ways to cope with high temperatures.
Earlier this month, images of squirrels splooting in New York to deal with the summer heat circulated on social media.
The Straits Times explains what splooting is and highlights various ways that animals in Singapore keep their cool as the mercury rises.
1. Splooting squirrels
Ever seen a squirrel splayed on the tree? Do not be alarmed, as the critter is just splooting, or heat dumping, to keep cool.
The unusual position drew attention two weeks ago when the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation told residents not to panic when they see squirrels sprawled on the ground in the summer heat.
Some mammals adopt such postures to lose heat more efficiently by increasing the surface area of their bodies on a cool surface, said mammal scientist at the National University of Singapore’s Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum Marcus Chua.
Squirrels native to Singapore – such as the plantain squirrel – also sploot to stay cool.
Mr Chua added: “I’ve seen them do that on tree branches. They essentially adopt a yoga-like pose on a horizontal branch when it is hot. I’ve seen uncles do that on the ground at parks after exercising too, albeit on their backs.”
2. Salivating dogs
Some mammals rely on salivation and panting to cool down, as, unlike humans, they cannot sweat enough to lose heat.
This increases airflow into the respiratory tract and helps to cool their bodies, but it is an energy-intensive process that comes at the cost of water loss, said Mr Chua.