Why are squirrels ‘splooting’ in the heat?

Southwest

AUSTIN (NewsNation) — Central Texas has been feeling the heat this August. Temperatures have reached 100 degrees for 18 days straight – but it’s not just humans that are struggling in the blistering heat.

NewsNation affiliate KXAN compiled photos from viewers who captured squirrels “splooting,” or laying down flat on their stomachs with their legs stretched behind them.

Though the small mammals might look like they’re in stealth mode, it turns out they’re just trying to cool off.

Jill Calcote, of Moonshine Wildlife Rehabilitation in Cedar Park, explains why squirrels have been seen “splooting” on the ground.

“It’s super hot here in Texas right now, obviously, and those squirrels are basically just trying to cool themselves,” Calcote said.

“I think of my child not feeling well on the bathroom floor — they spread out on the tiles. That’s exactly what the squirrels are doing.”

“They are basically getting as much of their body on a cooler surface. If it’s cooler than the air outside, they’re going to put their body on it and it’s going to cool their temperature,” she added.

This squirrel stopped to stretch out (Picture: Andrew Berger)
Taking a break (Picture: Sher Neely)
It’s been getting a little too hot for Austin’s squirrels (Picture: KXAN)

There are steps that humans can take to help – but be careful, because squirrels can bite, Calcote said.

“We always suggest that humans give wildlife their space, to watch from a distance,” she said. “You can give them water. We don’t ever encourage people to feed wildlife but clean water is great.”

Leanne DuPay, a wildlife rehabilitator with Texas Parks and Wildlife, said that people can leave shallow, plate-like dishes with cool water placed near where squirrels lay down, or near the base of their trees.

During cooler weather in the winter, squirrels will adopt the same pose to warm up, DuPay added.

“If they are just laying, sprawled out and looking around, they’re fine.”

NewsNation affiliate KXAN contributed to this report.

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