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Last sync:2018-08-02 17:10
[ INTRO 🎵 ].

Squeaks and I are getting ready to have a nice picnic outside! We’ve got our picnic basket loaded with plenty of delicious and healthy snacks and lots of water.

And I’ll definitely need sunscreen, because it’s pretty sunny out there today, and I don’t want to get a sunburn. Great question Squeaks other animals don’t use sunscreen, so How do they protect themselves from the sun? We know they don’t put on sunscreen like humans do, and they don’t have metal to protect them, like robot rats.

So, what do they do? Well, plenty of animals already have something on top of their skin to protect them from sunburns. Birds have feathers.

Animals like bears, dogs, and cats have fur or hair. Other animals, like lizards and snakes, have scales. [Squeaks squeaks]. That’s true, Squeaks — there are some animals that don’t have feathers or fur or scales.

Pigs are a good example. You might know that they like to roll around in mud. [Squeaks nods.] But do you know why they cover themselves in mud? That’s right – sun protection!

There’s not much to block sunlight from hurting their skin, so they use the mud as their own version of sunscreen. And as a bonus, the mud keeps them nice and cool! Can you think of another animal that doesn’t have much covering its skin?

I’ll give you a hint: it has a veeeeery long nose. [Squeaks guesses: an elephant!] Yeah, I was thinking of an elephant! Elephants sometimes cover themselves in mud, too. Older elephants help cover their baby elephants with sand or dirt, and they’ll actually stand over younger elephants while they nap so they can rest in the shade.

But some animals can get their own version of sunscreen without having to cover themselves in mud. Like alligators. Even though an alligator’s scales help protect them, turns out alligators make something inside their bodies that protects them from the sun.

It’s a type of chemical called gadusol. And it’s not just alligators. Snakes and turtles make gadusol, too!

And so do frogs and toads. Most birds do, too -- so it’s not just their feathers keeping them safe from the sun! And let’s not forget about fish -- they also make this stuff. [Squeaks Squeaks].

That’s a good question, Squeaks! He wants to know why fish need sunscreen. I can see why you might be wondering about that, since they’re under the water.

But too much sunlight could still hurt them through the water. It’s the same reason we need sunscreen even when we’re swimming. It sure would be nice if our bodies made gadusol, too!

Then we wouldn’t need to put on sunscreen at all. And you know what? Scientists aren’t totally sure yet why our bodies don’t make gadusol.

But they do have an idea: they think it might be because a long time ago, humans used to just avoid the sunlight and go out at night instead of during the day. That’s what we call being nocturnal. So, it’s possible we don’t make gadusol because we just didn’t need it — we weren’t out in the sun all that much.

That might also be why we’re not covered with fur or feathers or something else that would protect us from the sun. But scientists are really interested in gadusol! Even though our bodies don’t make it by themselves, scientists are studying it to see if we can use science to turn gadusol into sunscreen for us, too.

So those are some ways that animals protect themselves from the sun. Here’s the thing, though: some animals still do get sunburned! Like whales.

They don’t have fur or anything else covering their skin, and they don’t make gadusol. But whales have special ways of healing themselves from sunburns, like developing a hard outer layer of skin, so they don’t get too hurt from the sun. So, Squeaks.

It’s looking pretty sunny out there! Since we can’t make our own sunscreen, how about doing something else that animals do … let’s find a nice shady spot under a tree. And that’s where we’ll have our picnic!

Thanks for joining us! If you want to keep having fun and learning with Squeaks and me, hit the subscribe button, and don’t forget to check us out on the YouTube Kids app. We’ll see you next time, here at the Fort! [ OUTRO 🎵 ].