Outdoors just for kids: Animals have different ways to beat summer heat

2014-07-31T00:00:00Z Outdoors just for kids: Animals have different ways to beat summer heat The Billings Gazette
July 31, 2014 12:00 am

Amphibians, like boreal chorus frogs and tiger salamanders, need to keep their skin moist and cool. That can be hard to do during summer on the hot, dry prairie of central and Eastern Montana.

Boreal frogs are heard everywhere in the spring and early summer. During their April-June breeding season their loud, short chirp seems to come from every prairie pond and water-filled roadside ditch.

Then July’s heat arrives, and the frogs that measure only about an inch long disappear. Actually, they will go underground, beneath vegetation, into water tanks or even building foundations.

Tiger salamanders survive by spending daylight hours under logs and rocks or in prairie dog burrows. People sometimes find this secretive 6- to 8-inch-long amphibian in basements, window wells or stock tanks.

For mammals like deer and elk, one method of dealing with heat is changing their winter coat to a summer one. Many animals — bears, raccoons and deer — lie down in the shade on hot summer days and are active mostly at night.

When it gets too hot, some birds get rid of extra body heat by panting like dogs. Trout often drop into deeper water because it’s cooler and contains more oxygen than warm water. Ideal trout water temperatures are in the mid-50s. Once the water reaches 70 degrees, they are headed for trouble unless they can find cooler, well-oxygenated water.

— Bruce Auchly

Fish, Wildlife and Parks

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Brett French

Outdoors editor for the Billings Gazette.

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