Environment Possum magic: how this marsupial copes when the mercury rises

Possum magic: how this marsupial copes when the mercury rises

Ringtail possums survive Australia’s scorching summers by letting their body temperature rise to prevent dehydration.

The marsupials save water by allowing their body temperature rise from 36 degrees to 39 degrees, according to new research from Charles Sturt University.

By being warmer than the air around them, the possums can then be cooled by the air rather than use scarce water resources to cool themselves down.

The common ringtail possum’s water-saving trick conserves an extra 10ml of water an hour – a significant amount for an animal that weighs in at under a kilogram.

Dr James Turners said learning how Australian animals survive heatwaves is crucial in the face of ongoing global warming.

“We need improve our understanding of animal responses to environmental heat to aid conservation efforts and protect wildlife,” he said.

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