Summer has us trapped in its warm, sweaty grip, but staying cool doesn’t mean you need to shell out hundreds on air conditioning or camp out in the freezer section of the grocery store. Here’s how to stay chill during the dog, cat and walrus days of summer.
1. Get dirty
Seals don’t have the luxury of having big floppy sun hats or beach umbrellas, so if they want to block the sun, they have to play dirty. Elephant seals will roll around and flip-up sand to cover their bodies in all-natural beach dust. The wet sand cools down their warm, blubbery bodies and helps protect them from the harsh sunlight.
2. Estivate! (A.K.A., Sleep the summer away)
Though it’s more common in the invertebrate and reptile world, some mammals sleep away the entire summer in a reverse-hibernation activity called estivation. The fat-tailed dwarf lemur is the only known primate that estivates during the hot, dry season. It can slow its metabolism and doze off for seven months inside a tree hole, relying on the fat stored in its tail for sustenance. And when it wakes up, it has all winter to catch up on Game of Thrones!
3. Hire help
Wouldn’t it be nice to have someone fan you all afternoon, maintaining a perfect temperature? That’s exactly what honey bees do. The busy bees work tirelessly to keep the internal temperature of the hive at a consistent 93 degrees. In winter, this is done by huddling close together to generate warmth. In summer, the bees flap their wings around the hive, to circulate the air and keep the Queen happy and chill. Replicate this organic a/c at home by having your friends run around your apartment with angel wings on. Or, you know, don’t.
4. Get patchy skin
The unique colorful patches on the body of a giraffe not only camouflage the animals, but work to keep it cool. Beneath the patches are a complex system of concentrated blood vessels that help transfer body heat out to the skin. The patches act as a kind of thermal window to help regular temperatures.
5. Shave your head and lose control of your bladder
The bald, grandfatherly-looking head and legs of a vulture allow it to cool down much faster than average, full-feathered birds. But wait—there’s more, when classy, sophisticated vultures need extra cooling, they pee on their bare legs.
6. Kiss your biceps
Squirrels conquer the summer heat by sprawling out and smushing their tummies against a cool surface in a position we’re unofficially calling the “Lazy Uncle.” They also lick their arms to stay cool. . . and to impress the ladies.
7. Listen up!
People with big ears are cool. Literally. At least it’s true in the world of the fennec fox. The fennec is the smallest, and dare we say most adorable, member of the fox family. Its impressive six-inch ears radiate and release the desert animal’s body heat.
8. Shave your belly and hug a tree
Koalas have evolved into perfect tree huggers, and new studies suggest that hugging the tree is how they control their temperatures. Koala fur is thinner on the belly, which makes transferring their temperature easier. Other animals that hug trees to cool down are bats, lizards, some wild cats and even chimpanzees.
9. Go it alone
If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen. That’s what porcupines and other migratory animals do. Nature has yet to give porcupines passes to the water park, so instead, to keep cool the prickly animals pack up and move one mile to a higher elevation during the summer. They also stay cool by spending the summer alone, instead of huddling in the same den with their annoying roommate during the winter. Everyone needs their space.