Table of Contents (click to enlarge)Sweat: It’s a Primate ThingHorsesBlood SweatPigs: Dirty, Not SweatyNo Sweat, No Problem!
Many mammals have sweat glands, but in primates sweating is only the primary method of thermoregulation.
Remember the last time you walked out into the summer and immediately drenched in a sweat?
But if you think about it, have you ever seen the animals sweating around you?
Does your peacefully sunbathing cat break a sweat?
In extreme heat, reptiles lounge in the shade of a rock to cool off, while in colder months they come out to sunbathe for hours and raise their temperature.
A gecko rests in the shade (Credit: Wirestock Images/Shutterstock) On the other hand, warm-blooded animals or homeotherms such as birds and mammals maintain their core temperature stable regardless of the weather.
Humans function at an optimal internal body temperature of 37 °C.
However, the technique each species uses to regulate temperature is unique.
Warm-blooded animals have a variety of ways to cool down when it gets too hot.
One of these methods is perspiration.
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Sweating: It’s a primate thing Primates like apes, monkeys, and humans are the only animals in the animal kingdom (besides horses, but we’ll get to that later) that sweat profusely in the heat.
Sweating is a method the body uses to regulate its internal temperature and is known as thermoregulation.
Sweat glands secrete a watery substance through the pores of our skin.
These beads of sweat soon evaporate from the skin, taking the heat with them.
There are two types of sweat glands namely eccrine and apocrine.
The two sweat glands and their respective functions (Image credit: Barks/Shutterstock) Eccrine sweat glands: These glands secrete beads of watery sweat and are found throughout the body.
Cats and dogs also have eccrine sweat glands on their paw pads and nose.
Compared to the apocrine sweat gland, this gland is not common in mammals.
Sweat from eccrine sweat glands (Image credit: Werayuth Tes/Shutterstock) Apocrine sweat glands: This type of sweat gland is found around the hair follicles.
It secretes a greasy, oily substance that is responsible for smelly armpit sweat in humans.
These glands are more common in mammals, but are not an effective method of cooling because the oily secretion does not readily evaporate.
Also Read: Why Do Some People Sweat More Than Others? Horses Like primates, horses also use sweat to keep cool, but we can’t necessarily call this “sweating” as the secretion they produce is very different from the watery sweat we know.
Running animals like horses produce copious amounts of sweat to dissipate the heat generated by their strenuous movement.
Their thick, waterproof coat prevents the sweat from evaporating quickly and therefore does not provide a cooling effect.
Horses have apocrine sweat glands, but their secretions contain the protein latherin, a natural detergent.
Latherin is believed to have the function of aiding in water distribution in the coat, thus facilitating evaporation.
The suds is just like what we see when washing clothes or dishes!
(Credit: Rolf Dannenberg/Shutterstock) Some other animals appear to be sweating, but don’t be fooled.
Bloodsweat Bloodsweat is the name of an unusual secretion that hippos produce to brave the heat.
Unlike horses, hippos do not have true sweat glands.
However, their pores ooze a thick, oily, red discharge when they are on land, but no… it’s not blood!
It’s not blood, it’s sweat!
(Credit: Lomtong Monrudee/Shutterstock) “Blood sweat” is actually a misnomer.
Pigs: Dirty, Not Sweaty Humans have the most sweat glands and are the sweatiest creatures, but what’s the meaning of the saying “sweat like a pig”?
Does that mean pigs sweat?
You may be surprised that the expression “sweat like a pig” has nothing to do with pigs!
In fact, pigs are among the many animals that don’t sweat.
The “pig” in question actually refers to pig iron, which is the pig iron that is first extracted from a smelting furnace.
Another pig… pig iron!
(Image credit: Jamikorn Sooktaramorn/Shutterstock) The smelting process involves pouring hot iron onto sand.
As they cool, the pieces solidify and resemble piglets and a sow, hence the name “pig iron”.
As the iron cools, the air around it creates moisture on the surface.
Therefore, “sweat like a pig” is an indication that the iron has cooled sufficiently to be manipulated further.
Now we come to the four-legged pigs.
Pigs don’t sweat because they don’t have sweat glands.
They stay cool by rolling in the mud like other animals, such as rhinos.
The mud cover plays a dual role in protecting pigs from insect bites and sun damage.
If you think about it, the mud actually helps them stay clean!
Pig taking a mud bath (Photo: jadimages/Shutterstock) No sweat, no problem!
We found that sweating is not the primary method of thermoregulation for most mammals.
Like pigs and hippos, there are several animals that lack any sweat glands.
However, being warm-blooded, they control their body temperature using a variety of methods, some of which are discussed below.
Panting: This is a well-known method used primarily by dogs and cats.
Pigs also use this method in addition to rolling in the mud.
Panting rapidly exchanges hot air for cool air, causing the temperature in the body to drop, beginning in the throat and lungs.
A panting African wild dog (Photo: Anna-Carina Nagel/Shutterstock) Magic Ears: Animals blessed with big ears, like elephants, use them as fans.
This allows more heat to be dissipated and the body to be cooled effectively.
For the same reason, desert-dwelling jackrabbits have a large network of blood vessels under their ears.
A rabbit (Image source: sumikophoto/Shutterstock) Skin color: A zebra’s black and white stripes certainly don’t help it blend into the African landscape, but some scientists believe it provides a microclimate just above the skin.
Zebras in African Grasslands (Photo: Jamen Percy/Shutterstock) Urohydrosis: Are You Ready to Feel Disgusted?
I hope so, because this method, used by some birds (like vultures and storks), uses urine and feces to cool them down.
They excrete their waste on their own feet and the evaporation of these waste has a cooling effect on the body.
While most animals don’t sweat, they do have their own methods of cooling themselves.
When the heat is just too hot, like humans, they seek a shady, cool spot to relax.
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References (click to enlarge)Sweat like a pig | Office for Science and Society.
BBC OnlineL.A. Zoo Blog – How do animals keep cool?
– www.lazoo.org Which animals sweat?
| Questions – The Naked Scientists.
Latherin: A surfactant protein found in horse sweat and saliva.
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