One Way Animals Keep Cool: Splooting

Twitter learns the DoggoLingo term for heat dumping
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 12, 2022 11:53 AM CDT
One Way Animals Keep Cool: Splooting
A squirrel sploot.   (Getty Images/LagunaticPhoto)

Dogs sploot. Cats sploot. Bears sploot. Squirrels sploot. And on a hot day, you might just catch one in the act, as New Yorkers learned this week. "If you see a squirrel lying down like this, don't worry; it's just fine," NYC Parks tweeted Tuesday alongside a photo of a squirrel laying on its belly in a patch of dirt, its limbs outstretched in a classic sploot. "On hot days, squirrels keep cool by splooting (stretching out) on cool surfaces to reduce body heat." As animal behavior expert Dan Blumstein tells the Guardian, squirrels and other splooting animals tend to have less hair or fur on their bellies, so sprawling out on a cool surface keeps them from overheating.

This is also known as heat dumping and "THIS is what the government SHOULD be telling us about," reads one response to NYC Parks' tweet. Twitter users were fascinated by the little-known "splooting" term. In tracing the etymology of the word, the Guardian says it's a DoggoLingo term—DoggoLingo being a language trend spawned from the cutesy way humans talk to animals, as NPR noted in a 2017 explainer. Perhaps a variation on "splat," the term might also be inspired by the onomatopoeic "sploot" sound used in cartoons since at least the 1950s, according to lexicographer Kory Stamper. She tells the Guardian that in print, the term splooting "maintained a pretty low profile—it stayed splooted, if you will—until very recently."

NBC New York suggests humans also get in on the action—or inaction, rather—with global temperatures on the rise. But a Guardian reporter who "ran around the block in 90F heat, then splooted on his apartment floor" does not recommend it. "While it may have been marginally cooler than remaining standing, it wasn't particularly comfortable," the outlet reports, noting a cold shower is preferable. USA Today—which shares photos of various splooting animals—suggests "cranking up your air conditioning, drinking ice water, or sitting in the shade." (More animals stories.)

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