Some Like it Hot

by Elizabeth Trickey, assorted pics by author, Jennifer Howard and Angela van Breemen

Approx. 3 minute read

Some critters really like, and need, the hot weather.  For anyone who owns a cat (I know, cats own you!), they always nap in the ray of sunshine that streams through a window.  Many humans enjoy that, too.  There is something about the brightness and warmth that relaxes the soul, and makes one feel that life is worth living.

Apart from the emotional benefits of enjoying the warmth of the sun, there are basic physical needs for all animals that require heat to survive.  Breathing, digesting food, even growing – these bodily functions are necessary for life, and they all need heat to work.

All endothermic (warm-blooded) animals are able to maintain an optimum body temperature by burning the food they eat, and through muscle movement like exercise and shivering.  For ectothermic (cold-blooded) animals, they can’t do that, so their body temperature is no different than the outdoor temperature.  If the air is cold, they will be cold, so they seek out external ways to warm up so their bodies can function optimally.

Take turtles, for instance.  They can often be seen sunning themselves on logs or rocks near water.  They are ectothermic, and this is the way they generate the heat needed to live, since they can’t generate enough of their own.  In the winter, these animals hibernate, digging themselves deep in the mud at the bottom of ponds where it isn’t as cold.  But their circulation slows down considerably as it is still quite cool in that environment. 

Frogs are the same as turtles.  Summer is spent sunning themselves, while the winter is a different story.  Some species of frogs actually freeze in the winter, their breathing and heart rate stopping since there is no body heat for organs to function.  But nature has its amazing ways, and these critters do thaw out in the spring!

Another ectothermic species is the snake.  Rocks are where they like to hang out to catch their heat.  Come winter, hundreds, even thousands, will slither underground, curling up together to maintain their collective body heat.  They don’t eat, and their metabolism slows.  The most hardy of snakes will surface on warmer days when the sun is shining.

In Ontario, we have just one lizard species, called a skink.  These small, colourful lizards are now endangered, mostly due to habitat loss.  They also need the heat of the sun to survive, and are only active during warm, sunny days.  They are good climbers, and will find low hanging branches where they can soak up the sun, away from predators.

Birds may be endothermic, but butterflies are not.  When these dainty little creatures get cold, they are unable to fly.  When this happens, they need the heat of the sun to warm up their muscles before they can flutter away.  That’s why you won’t see butterflies at night or in the winter.

Now that it is September, many of our ectothermic friends are becoming sluggish, not able to get enough heat that they need.  When these animals are brought to Procyon in the cooler weather, we need to keep them warm, under heat lamps, until spring when they are able to benefit from the heat of the sun.  How about sponsoring one of our reptiles or amphibians?

Reptiles or amphibians Sponsorship Program

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Donation Total: $35.00

Procyon Wildlife First Annual Fundraising Gala

To raise funds for Procyon Wildlife Rehabilitation & Education Centre to continue our work to rescue, rehabilitate and safely release orphaned and injured wildlife.




Early Bird Price $185.00 per ticket.

After October 1st $200.00 per ticket.

Eeny, Meeny, Miny, Moe

By Elizabeth Trickey

If it was possible, and you had the choice, what wild animal would you like to be?  Something with a personality just like yours, or one that you aspire to be like?  Let’s consider some of the many species that live at Procyon Wildlife during their rehabilitation.  

Image by Jen Howard

How about a rabbit?  They are very independent critters, having minimal contact with momma before heading out to seek their fortunes at only 3 weeks old!  They are very energetic, always on the go, and when brought to our rehab for help, they never stay with us for very long.  Rabbits are soft and fluffy, symbolizing fertility and prosperity.  Sounds good, but you’d have to put up with big ears!   

A Mama Raccoon carries one of her little ones up a tree.
A Mama Raccoon carries one of her little ones up a tree.

Maybe you’re smart and mischievous, and you don’t mind getting down and dirty to get a job done.  Then a trash bandit might be the animal for you!  Raccoons are curious creatures, which make them amazing problem solvers.  They are also very adaptable to different environments, so you could live in a city, and have a cottage in the forest!  These critters like to party at night, checking out a variety of food establishments, so be prepared to get a bit chonky!

Image by Jen Howard

Perhaps you are more of a social person, so a deer might be more to your liking.  These animals live in herds, watching out for each other.  Outside of their own species, they are shy and skittish, always on the alert for predators.  Deer often represent kindness, freedom, and grace.  They are great runners, jumpers, and swimmers.  So if you are athletic, this might the animal for you.

Chipmunk by Jennifer Howard

Who doesn’t love watching the antics of chipmunks?  And they look so cute with their cheeks full of food!  But beware, they can be fierce little devils, protecting what is theirs!  These critters are loners, spending a significant amount of time foraging for food and stockpiling it for the winter.  They don’t like going out in the cold months, instead spending lots of time sleeping, then waking only to eat.  Does that sound like you?

Image by Jen Howard

If you like going out at night, smelling good, and dressed formally in black and white, do I detect an affinity for skunks?  These little stinkers are mild-mannered, avoiding or ignoring confrontations from others.  Like skunks, if push comes to shove, you don’t take guff from anyone, and you will defend yourself if needed.  These critters are patient and self-confident, knowing who they are and what they want out of life.  

Image by Jen Howard

With foxes, family life is extremely important.  They are one of the few mammals that stay in a family unit, with both parents taking an active role in child-rearing.  Intelligent, playful, and cautious, these beautiful critters display a great capacity to love.  Sadly, media has not treated foxes well.  They are erroneously depicted as being sly and selfish.  Is that like you?  Do you feel misunderstood?

There are many other species that Procyon cares for – opossums, coyotes, squirrels, bats, porcupines, snakes, groundhogs, turtles, minks, and whatever else is brought to us.  Maybe one of those critters is more like you.  Consider sponsoring the critter that is your personality match.  We might even name it after you!

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