Furry mammals just SHOOPING AROUND

Kat Eschner's newsletter about animal-human relationships, Vol. 4 Iss. 9

This week’s issue of The Quick Fox is brought to you by this weird paper about how mammals ranging from squirrels to grizzlies shake themselves dry (even hummingbirds do this.) I have been worried about wet animals outside getting cold—just vaguely concerned—since I was a kid growing up in the rainy Pacific Northwest. Turns out that there’s more going on here than I thought: “By rapidly oscillating their bodies, through a process similar to shivering, furry mammals can dry themselves within seconds,” the researchers write.

The TL;DR on this: they made videos of a bunch of the aforementioned fuzzy critters (these particular examples from the Atlanta Zoo) shaking themselves dry after being dampened with a spray bottle or hose; then built a “wet-dog simulator” to let them study the shaking; and eventually they figured out that NOT ONLY is the rate of shake-off for each animal TUNED TO A FREQUENCY that will get the most water off them (in relation to how big they are and a ton of other factors)), BUT ALSO all of that loose skin most furry mammals have is ESSENTIAL in helping them dry off because it SHOOPS AROUND when they shake. If you want more detail I recommend this Atlantic story from when the paper came out in 2012.

What does all of this have to do with human-animal relationships, you ask? Walk a dog in the rain and get back to me.

Image: The wet dog shake in action on a longer-haired white dog who is maybe some kind of terrier? Unsure. (Credit: Giphy)


Things I read this week, sorted by the amount of time I suspect it will take you to get through them.



I glance at the ceiling. Dark shapes flitter among the rafters. Before I start shopping, I want to make sure I know what I’m dealing with. “Birds?” I ask the old man, pointing up.

“Spirits. Customers who expired in the store. Some from old age or illness. A couple of heart attacks. A few from door-buster sales.”

“I fully understand.”

— “Big Box,” Uncanny Magazine, Greg van Eekhout

Please read me

Stuff I wrote this week.

  1. The CDC just confirmed a second U.S. case of the Wuhan coronavirus

  2. The timing of the Wuhan coronavirus could be a global health nightmare

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All images in CREATURE FEATURE are used under Creative Commons licensing. Efforts have been made to ensure that photographs of living animals or natural scenes have been taken ethically, in responsible pet ownership conditions, at AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums or under safe, non-damaging conditions in the wild. If you see an issue with any image we share, please notify me.

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