Stay CoolBy Hannah Schardt
On a hot summer day, YOU may choose to cool off inside an air-conditioned house. But there’s no A/C in nature. So what’s a wild animal to do?
When a huge, heavy hippopotamus needs to chill out, it heads straight for a river or a lake. In fact, a hippo may spend more than half its time in the water. It doesn’t swim, though—it “walks” along the river bottom, holding its breath for as long as five minutes while completely underwater. Want to learn more cool tricks animals use to beat the heat? Dive on in!
STAY IN THE SHADE
This tree is the only one around that’s big enough to shade an elephant—or a bunch of elephants. So all members of this African elephant herd crowd together under the tree to share one small spot of shade. Hey, quit shoving!
PUT YOUR EARS UP
Big ears have lots of surface area—the amount of space that’s open to the air. They also have lots of blood vessels, which are full of warm blood. As the blood flows through the ears, the cooler air carries away body heat. So this jumbo-eared jackrabbit is letting off a whole lot of heat—all while keeping an ear (or two) out for threats.
SWEAT IT OUT
This horse has been out for a run on a warm day. And now it’s sweating to cool off! Sweat keeps a horse—or a person—cool in two ways: Skin feels cooler when it’s wet. And as sweat evaporates, it takes a bit of body heat with it.
OPEN YOUR MOUTH
Is this Gentoo penguin chick bursting into song? Nope—it’s panting, just as an overheated dog would do. When an animal pants, water vapor that escapes from its mouth, lungs, and nose carries heat away from its body.
SHED YOUR FUR
You don’t wear a heavy coat on a warm day, do you? Well, this mountain goat doesn’t, either! As the weather warms up in spring, the goat sheds its fleecy, thick winter coat in favor of a much shorter, thinner, cooler summer coat.
TAKE A PLUNGE
You might prefer a cold drink AFTER you go for a swim. But this tiger is enjoying a dip and a sip all at once! While pet cats mostly hate water, tigers love it—especially on hot days.
Some animals hide out underground when the temperature gets too hot. Others, such as this sand-flipping elephant seal, cover themselves with sand or mud. This protects their skin from the blazing sun and keeps them from overheating.
WAIT FOR DARK
When the sun goes down, the world becomes a cooler place. Many animals, including this fennec fox, wait until nighttime to go looking for food. That way, they can spend the hottest part of the day in a cool burrow or other shady spot.
You might not be able to wait for dark to do all the things YOU need to do. But if you ever swim, sweat, or stay in the shade, you chill out as a wild animal would!