Science

Dealing with downpour

For warm-blooded animals like mammals and birds, getting drenched in rain can be dangerous. Photo: Flickr  

Some of us love rains and cannot resist stepping out and dancing in them. While others are content watching and listening, while sipping a hot cup of coffee. There cannot be many who hate rain, unless it turns out to be incessant, causing flood and disasters.

What about animals? Do they like to stroll and dance in the shower or do they run for cover? Tastes and preferences differ in the animal kingdom too. While some do not mind rain, others are simply annoyed or scared.

Rain avoiders

For warm-blooded animals like mammals and birds, getting drenched in rain can be dangerous. They have to keep up their body temperature or they may become too cold to stay alive.

But almost all species have some kind of protection on their skin – fur in animals and feathers in birds. A few drops or a few hours of rain is bearable. Their fur will help them to stay warm.

Some birds dip their bills into oil glands near their tails and apply it over their feathers. The oil serves like a raincoat for a while. But when the rain gets worse, the animals use other tactics to stay dry. A deer may flatten its ears to keep water out and a hippo may close its nostrils.

‘Don’t mind’ers’

But a hippo or a buffalo does not mind pouring rain. They stand still and wait out a sudden storm. It’s a thick layer of fat that’s at work in these animals.

Cuddlers

Most terrestrial animals seek cover. In the forest during storms, orangutans have been observed to make ‘hats’ out of leaves. They also retreat to an enclosure and huddle together, sitting out rains. They may shelter under rocks or underground or tree logs.

What about animals in the water? Frogs, turtles and fish may retreat to lower levels of lakes and ponds, with some seeking added shelter under things like fallen rocks or woods.

Thunder and lightening can freak out many animals – even big elephants and apes.

Rain bravers

Reptiles’ scaly skins are composed of a protein called keratin, which allows waterproofing qualities. It also helps to remain hydrated. Crocodiles are pretty good at dealing with inclement weather. They remain calm and cool and never freak out.

It’s a different story for furry animals, such as giant pandas, tigers, brown bears. They can just shake themselves dry in mere seconds.

Let the party begin

For some animals, the rainy season is a time to party. On a rainy day, elephants head out for some mud bath, while toads look out for their mate.

Earthworms end their days-long confinement under the soil and peep out their head.

For it is time to slither on the surface, while still staying moist.


Our code of editorial values

Related Topics
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Jul 30, 2021 4:28:15 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/in-school/sh-science/Dealing-with-downpour/article14556885.ece

Next Story