SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — With summer in full swing, you might be wondering how the animals in the great outdoors can survive in the heat that you avoid through air conditioning. So how do they stay cool in this sort of weather? Molly Canady, an interpretive ranger at Skidaway State Park, had some answers.
“It’s kind of actually rare in the animal kingdom for animals to sweat,” Canady said in a talk that she gave at the Interpretive Center in the park Friday. As Canady explained, some animals do sweat, but it’s mostly primates and equines.
“Another way things can be cool is they can burrow,” Canady said. Animals that burrow to keep cool do so because the further they go in the ground, the less exposed they are to the sun.
One such animal that does this is the Georgia state reptile the Gopher tortoise.
“They make burrows that can be very long and many many feet underground,” Canady said. This is a feat in and of itself as the Gopher tortoise is on the larger side at 12 pounds.
Because they are on the larger side, other animals oftentimes use these burrows for shelter including mice, lizards and snakes.
One snake that uses the burrow is the endangered Eastern Indigo snake.
“It will use that cool burrow to thermoregulate,” Canady said. She also said that alligators will do a similar thing by creating what is called an “alligator hole.” These alligator holes help provide spaces to forage for many animals in addition to the benefits that they create for alligators.
“Other animals have different body parts that they can run their blood through,” Canady said. This includes the rabbit who will run its blood through its long ears to cool it off in the breeze and the Fiddler crab who will run its blood through its large claw to cool itself.
“It actually acts as a heat sink so the blood the hot blood will rise to the fiddler crabs big claw and it will dissipate through convection,” Canady explained.
On the other hand, squirrels have a valve at the base of their tail that allows them to trap in their blood during the cold winter months and let their blood flow during the hot summer months.
“So they’re actually using their tail as a kind of cooling mechanism,” Canady said.
If you would like to learn more about the many different ways that animals can keep their bodies cool, you can attend one of Skidaway State Park’s events discussing the topic. The next event is Wednesday, August 31 at 2 p.m. and you can find more information by clicking or tapping on the link here.