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Ever wondered how animals beat the heat?

By: Howard J. Bennett The Washington Post
August 22, 2017 Updated: August 22, 2017 at 4:20 am
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Happy wet havanese dog relies on the edge of an inflatable outdoor pool in a hot summer afternoon

Summers can be beastly. What tricks do animals have up to keep cool?

- Shedding: One characteristic of being a mammal is having hair. Some, such as dolphins, have only whiskers (and those fall out shortly after birth). Most have a dense coat of fur. During winter, fur thickens. The opposite occurs in warm weather.

- Hiding: Animals use natural umbrellas in the form of foliage. They also hide under rocks, fallen trees and any other structure that blocks the sun's rays.

- Sweating: When sweating, water rises to the surface of the skin. As the water evaporates, it cools the skin slightly. Most animals don't sweat. Horses are an exception. So are dogs, except they sweat only through their paws, which isn't enough to keep cool.

- Panting: When exhaling, heat leaves the body with the breath. Dogs, cats and lots of other animals cool off by panting.

- Pooping: Bird poop is gooey because it contains lots of water. Storks and vultures take advantage of this by pooping on their legs during the summer. When the water in the poop evaporates, it provides a cooling effect.

- Swimming: Animals seek out ponds, rivers, streams or any body of water they can find. Some, such as pigs, prefer mud because it keeps them cool longer and protects their skin from insects.

- Radiating heat: Elephants and hares have very large ears compared with their body sizes. During the summer, more blood circulates through the blood vessels in their ears, releasing heat into the environment.

- Sleeping: Some animals use a variation of the hibernation technique to avoid the hot, dry conditions of summer. The name for this state is "estivation." The water-holding frog avoids the harsh summer months by burrowing into sandy ground and protecting itself inside a "cocoon" made of mucus.

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