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We live in Texas and anytime you go outside in the summer around here, most people want to turn right around and go back into the air conditioner!  As humans, we have the option of staying inside to stay cool.  But what do animals do when they are hot?  Do they sweat like people?  Do animals other than dogs pant to stay cool?  Let’s find out.


The human body is always trying to keep its core temperature around 98.6 through a process called thermoregulation.  We use thermoreceptors in our brain to tell us if we need to get warmer or cooler. When temperatures rise, humans lower their body temps by sweating.  The fluid that is released moistens the surface of the body, allowing it to cool as it evaporates.  The water vapor that is created helps to transfer heat energy away from the body.

But besides humans, are there other living creatures that also sweat?  Yes – horses, monkeys, apes, and hippos sweat.  Dogs and cats do sweat a little through their paws, but we will read later what they do to truly cool off. Some of the most unusual sweat in the world comes from horses and hippos.  Horse sweat contains a natural detergent called latherin which can function like soap.  Hippo sweat is actually colored pinkish red due to the antibacterial pigments they secrete.



Panting is another way that many animals cool down.  When an animal pants, it evaporates water from internal body structures.  Panting expels hot air and brings in cool air. Many animals use this method to cool down including dogs, cats and pigs.


Other Cooling Methods

Evaporative cooling – Lizards will stand still with their mouths gaping open allowing evaporation to occur on the wet membranes which in turn cools the head and brains

Behavioral thermoregulation – Many animals employ this method of simply shuffling back and forth between sunny and shady areas. This occurs when the animal cannot regulate its own body heat and must rely on finding a cooler area to rest to lower their internal body temperature.  Lizards, snakes, butterflies, and many other insects will cool off using this method.

Pooping – Many storks and vultures will actually poop on their own legs as a way of cooling off.  Their poop is mostly liquid so it acts as a form of evaporative cooling.

The ear effect – Some animals with large ears actually use their ears to regulate temperature.  Jack rabbits and elephants both have blood vessels in their ears that they use to help cool their bodies.  Elephants flap their ears around to increase the blood supply and bring their body temperature down. In a hare, these blood vessels constrict or dilate depending on the outside temperatures.

Image by Snap_it from Pixabay
Image by Alexas_Fotos from Pixabay
Image by Jason Gillman from Pixabay
Image by teetasse from Pixabay

Now let’s see how much you can sweat.  Try the following activities outside (keep water nearby) and let’s see if sweating helps you cool down.

Run in place for one minute

Do 20 jumping jacks

High knees for 30 seconds

10 push ups

Run in place for 30 seconds

To find out even more information about the stinking business of sweat, follow these links.