How animals keep cool in the heat

25 October 2019

On hot days, it’s nice to cool down with a cold drink in the shade. Animals also use similar tactics, spending time by the water and away from the scorching sunshine. But mother nature also equipped them with some really interesting ways to stay comfortable in a heatwave...

A patient dog waits in line at the vaccination clinic in Kenya

Dog days

When it gets hot, we humans bring our body temperature down by sweating – but it’s not the same for our canine friends. Although they sweat through their paw pads, that’s often not enough to keep cool. Instead, dogs pant to circulate fresh air through their body.

Three bears swimming in a pond at Libearty bear sanctuary in Zarnesti, Romania

Unbearable heat

In summer, bears shed their thick winter coat for lighter and longer hair, which shields their skin from the sun. The rescued bears at our partner sanctuary in Romania love to spend the summer by the pond.

Python wrapping around a tree

Shady business

Snakes, being reptiles, are cold-blooded and can’t regulate their body temperature like us humans do. The best way for them to beat the heat is to stay away from the sunshine, so they find shade under rocks or luscious forest canopy.

Pig at Fazenda Água Limpa a free range pig farm of the Brasília University.

Sweating like a pig

Pigs need to bathe to stay cool, since they actually have very few sweat glands! Plus, the mud acts as a sunscreen and protects their skin. Clever, aren’t they?

Elephant at Elephant Valley Project in Mondulkiri, Cambodia

Have you heard?

Elephants use their large ears as a surface to release heat from their bodies. In hot weather, they flap them around to increase the blood supply and bring their body temperature down.

Two roosters at the Vauxhall City Farm, London, UK

It’s roosting out there!

Chickens are another animal that can’t sweat. Similar to how elephants use their ears to keep cool, their comb (their little red crest and flesh around their beak) acts as a heat radiator, bringing blood up to the surface so it can cool down.

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