The heat is making squirrels 'sploot' — a goofy act that signals something serious
Who are they? Squirrels. As climate change is making extreme heat events more common, these bright-eyed and bushy-tailed critters are "splooting" to cope.
"They're trying to find a cool space, and if they can put as much of their core body on to a cool space, then the heat is going to transfer from their bodies to the other surface. So in the case of squirrels, you'll often see them maybe on a shady sidewalk, or a park path, or in the grass, just splayed out."
What's the big deal? Splooting squirrels are popping up all over social media. And while it may seem goofy and cute (it is), splooting can be a sign that squirrels are experiencing temperatures much higher than what they're used to. Climate change is making things worse.
What's next? You can expect to see more splooting while extreme heat persists. But splooting can only do so much to cool squirrels down.
"Just like with humans. Sweating works really well a lot of the time. But if it's too humid outside and the water won't evaporate, you can sweat all you want but it won't evaporate off you and draw that heat away."
"For every kind of thermal regulatory mechanism, there is a point at which it doesn't work anymore, and that depends on environmental temperature. So it's going to get harder and harder for squirrels to sploot effectively – for humans to sweat effectively – as temperatures rise."
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