One of the most common difficulties we encounter at summer camp every day is making sure that we don’t get too hot. Now, I’m sure this does not come as a surprise to many, but animals face the same challenge during the hot and humid summer months in Cincinnati. Due to this, many have creative ways to stay cool when the temperature reaches sweltering numbers.
Lazarus lizards are one of the more famous local animals and can be found scurrying around Imago and other parts of Cincinnati quite easily. However, as reptiles they must use different tactics to cool down than other local animals. Small lizards, like the Lazarus lizard have a more difficult time maintaining their body temperature than other larger lizards. As a result of this, even small changes in the surrounding temperature have a great effect on their body. By moving in and out of the sun, their metabolisms are rapidly changed. Due to this, their main way to stay cool in the summer is to move out of the sun and under a rock or other shady spot. Once they need to raise their body temperature again, they simply move into the view of the sun and bask in the heat, moving back into the shade once their body temperature becomes too high.
We will see a whitetail deer every once in a while at summer camp, often near our pond. The reason for this is that deer will go near water on hot days as it is a bit cooler in these areas. Along with this, whitetail deer also replace their dark, thick winter coats with a reddish colored and thinner coat for the summer. This helps to keep the deer cool by reflecting the sunlight. Whitetail deer use a similar tactic as dogs to stay cool by panting. This allows some hot air to escape from the deer out of the mouth. Another place that heat can escape from the deer’s body is through the back of its hairless ears. In the summer months, the whitetail deer spends much of its time resting, particularly on the hottest days.
Carolina wrens are easy to spot in Cincinnati. However, it is easier for them to overheat in the summer than other animals because birds have a higher internal body temperature than most. Because birds can not sweat, they also pant and allow airflow to increase while letting water evaporate off of their tongues. Another way carolina wrens cool down is by spreading their wings and puffing up their feathers. This allows cooler air to hit their skin. Many birds, including the carolina wren, make use of birdbaths and other areas with water to wet their feathers and thus reduce their body temperature. Perhaps the simplest way that birds stay cool in the summer is by staying in shaded areas like in trees and doing their best to not use too much energy.