Squirrels Spotted ‘Splooting’ Amid Brutal California Heat Wave: PHOTOS

by Megan Molseed

California residents may be noticing something a little unusual about the squirrels as many are seen “splooting” as the 2022 heat wave rages on. This technique, also known as “heat dumping” sees the squirrel as it splays itself onto the ground, bellies down, to keep cool.

Overheated Squirrels Don’t Have Airconditioning, So They Do The Next Best Thing: Splooting

Lately, San Fransisco residents have been noticing the resident squirrels display some unusual behavior. Temperatures are reaching a shocking 105 degrees these days. And, while many humans have the option of retreating into airconditioned areas, the state’s wildlife does not. So, the squirrels are resorting to a technique known as “splooting” to keep cool during the hot days.

According to WildCare in San Rafael, the agency has “been receiving lots of calls about hot animals.” And, notes Alison Hermance, among these calls, are concerns about squirrels who are “spread out flat.'”

However, animal experts note that there is no reason to be concerned when squirrels begin to do this. In fact, the technique is helpful to the animal’s safety.

“If you see a squirrel lying down like this, don’t worry,” notes a Twitter message from the New York City parks Twitter page earlier this summer.

“It’s just fine,” the Twitter message continues.

“On hot days, squirrels keep cool by splooting (stretching out) on cool surfaces to reduce body heat,” the caption explains. “It is sometimes referred to as heat dumping.”

Furry Animals Don’t Sweat, So They Need To Find Other Ways To Stay Cool

Animals that are covered in fur can’t sweat. So this means that they need to find other ways to keep cool…especially during major heatwaves. Some pant, using the dampness of their mouths to evaporate away heat. Or, sometimes, animals implement what is called “behavioral cooling.”

This technique involves the animal seeking out a cooling shade, or laying their bodies against a cool surface…or “splooting.”

“The squirrel is putting as much of their body surface as possible in contact with a cooler surface,” notes Charlotte Devitz, a biologist and Ph.D. student who studies squirrel behavior. “Frequently on concrete or pavement that’s been in the shade.”

The California Heatwave Is Resulting In Animal Injuries

These responses to the heat are coming during a major heatwave that is plaguing California in recent weeks. The heat wave is said to be caused by a powerful “heat dome.”

Even though splooting certainly helps the furry animals in the extreme heat, it doesn’t keep the heat totally at bay. And, even with these techniques, some animals are facing dire effects. According to experts reports of animals facing heat stroke issues are up. Birds are “literally falling on their sides, panting with the heat.”