Science

Who Sploots?

A Slate investigation into splooting squirrels.

Squirrel in a splooting pose (stretching) on a bench
AwakenedEye/iStock/Getty Images Plus

Squirrels across the country are splooting from the heat.

They’re doing it in New York, where the temperature reached 95 degrees Fahrenheit yesterday:

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

And in Texas, where this summer has been one of the state’s hottest:

Advertisement

Squirrels are not the only four-legged creatures that partake in this funnily named stretch. Corgis, cats, and even bears sploot:

Advertisement
Advertisement

According to Gilbertsville Veterinary Hospital, there are a number of variations on the power pose. There’s the classic sploot (one leg remains beneath the body while the other leg is kicked back), the side sploot (one leg is tucked under the body while the other is kicked out to the side) and a full sploot (the animal has kicked both legs behind the body, exhibiting a full body stretch). There also some alternative fun names for splooting, such as “frogging,” “frog dogging,” pancaking and “superman.”

Advertisement
Advertisement
A dog splooting
yhelfman/iStock/Getty Images Plus
Advertisement
Advertisement

Splooting makes for a great photo opp: there’s a subreddit devoted to sploot shots, as well as  one called toolps, dedicated to reverse splooting, when an animal lays on its back with its legs in the air. But the stretch actually has some functional advantages. As Andrea Y. Tu, medical director at Behavior Vets in New York City, explained to Sam Howell in a Dodo article, there are a few reasons animals such as dogs partake in splooting.

“Sometimes they like it because it feels good to stretch out,” Tu told the Dodo. “Some animals like stretching out in that position. Some animals might enjoy having the cool sensation of the floor on their belly.” Unless they seem like they are in pain, those splooting squirrels are just  fine.

But overall, it seems to be a harmless mechanism that keeps animals agile and cool, akin to the frog yoga pose (which maybe should be renamed to the “human sploot”). Next time, I’m in need of a cool down, I know what I’ll be doing.

Advertisement