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  • AZ Animals Do It, Why Can’t We? Staying Cool in the Summer Heat

AZ Animals Do It, Why Can’t We? Staying Cool in the Summer Heat

July 07, 2023 9:52 AM | Anonymous

Author: Elise Lange, AWF Communications Manager

Now that it’s officially summertime, Arizonans are preparing for the heat! Most people who live in this great state will tell you that we’re grateful for the weather so far — in June, the highest temperature we reached was only about 105 degrees — a far cry off from the record temperature of 122 degrees in June 1990. But the truth is that even for the most devout outdoors person, it’s challenging to find the motivation to get outdoors during the hotter months of the year. 

Depending on the activity you enjoy most outside, there’s a chance that you won’t struggle to keep cool outdoors. For one, fishing and other water recreational activities are great ways to enjoy the outdoors still and beat the heat. Bonus — if you go fishing and are successful, you’ll bring home food for your family! Hunting can be a challenge during the summer as well, but luckily like fishing, there are cooler spots in the state that you can go to during the summer, as long as you don’t mind making a trip out of it. However, depending on where you want to fish or hunt, you may still have a long, hot trek to your destination.

If you’re like me and enjoy hiking and wildlife watching, you’ll know all too well the same struggles that hunters and anglers experience during the summer. The sun beating down on you as you hike over long, burning grass, sand, or rocky soil, uphill, downhill, and the feeling of sweat on your back — this is an experience we’ve all had.

So what can we do? How can we actually beat the heat to still enjoy the great outdoors?

For one — everyone says it and I’ll say it again: water, water, water! Bring more water than you think you’ll need and you’ll be much happier. 

For two — ice! Bring ice with you wrapped in a towel and wrap it around your neck periodically when you really feel the sun.

Alright, so water and ice — these are pretty basic ways to stay cool. 

But let’s think more critically about this.

Pay closer attention to what you wear. A hat is great, but a hat that can wick sweat is even better. Pay attention to the material of the clothes you wear too. Both cotton and linen are some of the best fabrics for staying cool and most outdoor clothing companies already manufacture clothes in those materials that are also made to be durable outdoors. 

Let’s now think in terms of Arizona wildlife. They don’t need sweat-wicking hats or cotton hiking pants to stay cool. So how do they do it?

Native animals in Arizona are so well-adapted to the heat that it hardly matters when we reach those record-heat days. One of their best ways to stay cool is through evaporative cooling: when a coyote pants or a vulture urinates on their legs, that’s evaporative cooling.

Now, we don’t necessarily advocate for you to start panting or urinating on your legs, but it’s important to know that humans also use evaporative cooling! When we sweat, that liquid absorbs the heat from our bodies as it evaporates and becomes a gas. So while sweating is uncomfortable, it’s how your body works to stay cool.

The heat changes throughout the day, so it’s only natural that our behavior should also change. Try getting outdoors during the cooler parts of the day, like before sunrise and after sunset. By doing this, you’re following the schedules of some of our native animals, who definitely know how to survive and thrive in the heat. 

By fishing before sunrise, not only are you outdoors in the cooler part of the day, you’re more likely to encounter fish, who are more active in the morning. If you go for a hike at nighttime, you’ll get a better view of the stars and see some of Arizona’s nocturnal animals like bats, who enjoy the cooler night air as they hunt for insects.

In closing, there are some basic ways to stay cool that most Arizonans know already (though we’re awfully good at being tough enough to withstand little accessible water). But by looking at our native animals and recognizing the behaviors they exhibit during the summer, we can better deal with the heat and enjoy the outdoors year-round. After all, that’s what the outdoors is there for!

Protecting wildlife and their habitats through education, inspiration, advocacy, and action since 1923


Arizona Wildlife Federation

PO Box 1182,  Mesa, AZ 85211
(480) 702-1365


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