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Thread: Interesting Comments On Water Loss Defense In Small Mammals & Other Animals....

  1. #1
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    Default Interesting Comments On Water Loss Defense In Small Mammals & Other Animals....

    I was doing a little research to see how our little wild fur buddies get enough water during extended below freezing cold stretches, like we have had here in the Albany, NY area over the last 4 or 5 days.

    During the fall, on previous cooler mornings after a warmer night, I've noticed my wilds licking dew off the leaves in trees or on the grass, but FREEZING COLD snaps got me wondering? Lately I've been putting out 4 or 5 hot tap water bowls, two to three times a day, .....after dumping out the chunk of ICE that forms. When I've seen a squirrel (and many blue jays and other birds), drinking from one of these warm water bowls, they really seem to relish it this time of year!

    Anyway, I clicked on the link below during a search and was quite fascinated by the response by Alan Magid, a retired professor of physiology, to the question posed "How do animals like squirrels get water when there are no nearby rivers, streams or ponds?".

    While his answer was not specifically limited to squirrels, much of what he discusses applies to many small mammals such as squirrels. Who knew there was so much going on in those little bodies!

    https://www.reddit.com/r/askscience/...et_water_when/

    He states:

    "From a retired professor of physiology. As others have noted, desert animals, like all terrestrial animals, have a water loss problem but even worse due to high ambient heat and low humidity. In part, the defense is behavioral, seeking shade or commonly to burrow, remain there during the heat of the day and forage at night. Owls evolved to dominate this population.

    The other elements of water loss defense are the same in little mammals as they are in people, but more extreme. Their skins are very tightly knit leading to low water permeability and have relatively low blood flow. Internally, a counter current mechanism in the relatively long snout permits them to recover a good bit of water in their exhaled breath that we short-snouted, flat faced people do not. Camels have long snouts for the same reason. Finally, their kidneys are built of nephrons, urine producing units, whose structure and cellular structure though another counter-current mechanism to recover much more water from the urine stream. To put this in numbers, humans well-adapted to water stress can produce a urine with up to 1200 mOsmoles of solute per liter. By comparison, the desert kangaroo rat can do twice as well, producing a urine twice as concentrated as that, 2400 mOsmolar. Their water intake comes from the same sources as any critter. Moisture in food (even 'dry' seeds contain about 7% water), liquid water such as dew and rain water, and the water of respiration, formed along with carbon dioxide, as food molecules are oxidized in our cells to produce ATP that powers just about all cellular reactions, either directly or indirectly.

    Finally, to illustrate an even more extreme water retention mechanism, we have bird 'lime', the white component of bird droppings. In their physiology, nitrogen wastes are turned into guanine rather than urea. After their nephrons pull out the water, the guanine crystallizes to a solid. Bird piss rocks. Guano deposits of bird waste was a major source of agricultural fixed nitrogen until the Haber process for converting atmospheric nitrogen to ammonia which revolutionized agriculture and led to the explosion of the human population as the food supply exploded to feed it."

  2. 3 TSBers pass along the fuzzy thanks to joejeweler:

    Diggie's Friend (12-08-2018), Scooterzmom (12-10-2018), TubeDriver (12-08-2018)

  3. #2
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    Default Re: Interesting Comments On Water Loss Defense In Small Mammals & Other Animals....

    Though eating snow lowers their core temperature, they will eat it if they don't get enough moisture from other sources.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iGCeoKy8Ndg

  4. Serious fuzzy thank you's to Diggie's Friend from:

    Scooterzmom (12-10-2018)

  5. #3
    Join Date
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    Default Re: Interesting Comments On Water Loss Defense In Small Mammals & Other Animals....

    Buy a heated waterbowl. I have one on the porch and everyone drinks from it, birds, squirrels, raccoons and opossoms . They are super cheap

    https://www.amazon.com/Pet-Products-...for+dogs&psc=1

    Thanks for the Science article
    Kim Cassidy
    Licensed NY Wildlife Rehabilitator

  6. Serious fuzzy thank you's to kcassidy from:

    Scooterzmom (12-10-2018)

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