Insight & Analysis

Hot squirrels ‘splooting’ all over New York City!

Published: Aug 2022

New York City has had a long hot summer and the heat has affected not only human behaviour, but also that of some of our furry friends!

Red squirrell standing with its arms stretched out in forest

Squirrels have been spotted in New York City parks sprawled out on their stomachs with their arms and legs stretched out, or splooting, as it’s less commonly known!

Anyone catching a glimpse of the creatures in this strange position have been posting their photos online, with more than 40,000 posts on Instagram that have been tagged with the word “splooting.” There are even social media posts showing squirrels, dogs and even cats in the same position. Apparently the activity is supposed to be healthy for animals and is a great way to help them cool down in extreme heat.

According to Dan Blumstein, Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of California, Los Angeles, because many mammals have less fur on their bellies compared to the rest of their bodies, lying flat on their stomachs on cooler surfaces, such as rocks, enables them to shed some heat and keep cool.

“If you do see a squirrel lying down like this, don’t worry it’s just fine. On hot days, squirrels keep cool by splooting,” the New York City Parks Department said in a viral tweet. This is perfectly normal and healthy for the mammals!

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