The temperature in California has been hovering above the mark of 38 degrees Celsius (100 degrees Fahrenheit), making it extremely uncomfortable for people living in the state. Even the animals, like squirrels, have been feeling the heat, according to a report in Independent. A few weeks ago, photos of squirrels lying flat on their bellies in California caught the internet’s attention. Some people expressed concern about the safety of the squirrels, but the New York City’s Parks Department said on Twitter there is nothing to worry about.
It added that in a bid to survive the California heatwave, these squirrels have been seen “splooting”, or stretching out on the ground on their bellies. Where people can survive through the dangerous heatwave in their air-conditioned homes, the local squirrels in the area can do only splooting to make themselves cool surviving in the heat.
Alison Hermance, a worker at Wild Care in San Rafael told local media SFGate that her animal hospital had “been receiving lots of calls about hot animals, including concerns about squirrels “spread out flat”.
Splooting, also known as “heat dumping”, is the technique of lying flat on the ground with limbs outstretched. In order to stay cool during the sweltering noon sun, the animal can squeeze their entire tummy onto a cooler surface.
“If you see a squirrel lying down like this, don’t worry; it’s just fine. On hot days, squirrels keep cool by splooting (stretching out) on cool surfaces to reduce body heat. It is sometimes referred to as heat dumping,” the NYC Parks Department said on Twitter.
If you see a squirrel lying down like this, don’t worry; it’s just fine. On hot days, squirrels keep cool by splooting (stretching out) on cool surfaces to reduce body heat. It is sometimes referred to as heat dumping. pic.twitter.com/pD1T3lPbBH
— NYC Parks (@NYCParks) August 9, 2022
To prevent heat stroke or hypothermia, all animals, including humans, must control their body temperature. Sweating, skin vasodilation (widening of blood vessels), and body hair lying flat against the skin to prevent hot air from getting trapped are just a few of the ways humans cool themselves down in hot weather. However, since fur-covered animals are unable to perspire, they need alternative methods of cooling down.