It’s finally summer in Canada and that means humidity, heat and more humidity! All our animals have behavioural coping mechanisms to deal with the hot weather like being less active, playing in water, and hanging out in the cool shade of the barn, as well as the biological process of sweating. Pigs, however, have a very special challenge when it comes to hot summer days because they don’t sweat.
For most mammals, sweating is the process by which our bodies cool down. It’s done though a process of “heat vaporization” which is a fancy sciencey way to say that when our core temperature gets too high, we start to sweat, and it’s the evaporation of that sweat that cools you down. Now, if you happen to be a pig, sweating and evaporation of sweat is not an option for cooling down your body temperature. So, what’s a pig to do?
Pigs have a few strategies to cool down their bodies when they get overheated. The first is to find a source of water and go for a dip. If that isn’t available, then they find a patch of mud and roll in it. Rolling in mud serves three purposes. First, the moisture from the mud, like a nice dip in a pool or puddle, acts to cool down the body. Second, as the mud dries, it creates a protective coating to help keep the external heat from raising the pig’s body temperature. And, third, a nice coating of mud also protects a pig’s delicate skin from sunburn. Pigs have one last trick up their snouts and that’s panting. Panting provides a cooling process for a pig by increasing airflow and helping to evaporate moisture from the lungs.
So, when it comes to coping with summer’s heat and sun, pigs have it made in the shade!