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Heat Wave Has Squirrels Splooting in Alexandria, Virginia

"They're not dead. They're cooling down."

Squirrel laying flat on his stomach on top of fence
Alexandria resident Anh Phan looked out her window and saw this squirrel splootting on the top rail of her fence, June 23, 2024. (Photo: Anh Phan)

ALEXANDRIA, VA – Anh Phan did a double take when she glanced out her window and saw a squirrel laying flat on its stomach on the rail of her fence, thinking, “Apparently this squirrel has reached the limit … of something.” What she was witnessing was a classic squirrel splooting.

Splooting is a thing.  An animal sploots when it lies flat to the ground or the floor or some other surface with its four legs spread wide. Perhaps your own dog or cat has been found splooting on the kitchen floor now and then.

They’re trying to find a cool space, and if they can put as much of their core body on 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 on a shady sidewalk, or a park path, or in the grass, just splayed out.

We do it too when looking for the cool side of the pillow.
When humans are hot, sweating cools us down. But animals that can’t sweat have to resort to other behaviors to cool off. Dogs pant. Birds dunk themselves in water. And squirrels sploot.
But as cute as it looks, it indicates dangerous levels of overheating and trying to escape the worst of summer’s heat. Your backyard animals need additional water this time of year and get most of their hydration from the food they eat, but they will take a drink from any outdoor source they can reach, such as a birdbath, a pan of water on the ground, a mini-pond and whatever you might want to add to the mix to help Mother Nature.

MORE: High Temperatures Prompt Cooling Centers to Open in Alexandria

Mary Wadland

Mary Wadland is the Publisher and Editor in Chief of The Zebra Press, founded by her in 2010. Originally from Delray Beach, Florida, Mary is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Hollins College in Roanoke, VA and has lived and worked in the Alexandria publishing community since 1987.

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