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Ever wonder why some animals don't need sunscreen or how they can live in dry climates without water? Well, some of them can use the slime their bodies produce in weird and helpful ways!

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Squeaks and I are getting ready for the beach!

We’ve got our sunscreen to protect ourselves from the sun! We also have plenty of water so we don’t get dehydrated, which is when your body doesn’t have enough water.

We’re lucky — all we have to do is grab some sunscreen, fill up a bottle from the sink here at the Fort, and we’re ready to go. Other animals can’t do that. But some have their own amazing — and pretty weird! — ways to protect themselves from the sun, dehydration, and all kinds of other things.

Like the hippopotamus! Hippos make red mucus that covers their whole body, which helps them in all sorts of different ways! Mucus is something that we make, too.

It’s the stuff in our noses that keeps out germs. But our mucus is pretty different from hippos’ mucus! Their mucus covers the /outside/ of their whole body.

Ours doesn’t. Imagine if the mucus from your nose covered you from head to toe! When hippos are in sunlight, they look red because of their mucus.

Sometimes people call their mucus “blood sweat” because the color is like blood, but the mucus isn’t actually blood /or/ sweat. And this red stuff protects hippos in a lot of cool ways. It acts like sunscreen, to protect them from getting a sunburn.

It also repels water, which is important since hippos spend a lot of time in water. And, it’s a natural antibiotic, which means it kills the germs that might make a hippo sick. In that way, it is kind of like the mucus we make, since it also keeps us from getting sick!

We just don’t cover our whole bodies in it. But wait till you hear about how the Australian water-holding frog uses its mucus. These frogs live in dry places where they have to go without water for really long periods of time.

So what does the Australian water-holding frog do? First, it buries itself underground — as much as over a meter deep! That’s longer than my arm!

Then it sheds a few layers of its skin. Combined with a whole bunch of mucus, the skin it sheds turns into a hard protective cocoon that keeps the frog’s water from escaping, so it won’t run out of water for a really long time! Some people call this layer a “skin bag” because it fully covers and protects the frog, kind of like a lunch bag keeps a sandwich cool — just like the one we’re bringing to the beach!

Our sandwiches are going to stay nice and cool in there! Anyway, back to the Australian water-holding frog! Once it’s underground and nice and comfy in its skin bag, it enters a type of very deep sleep so it can stay underground without needing food or more water.

It can stay underground for a whole year! When there’s lots of rain again, the frog crawls back up from way down underground to get more water. And if it gets really hungry, the frog can even eat its skin bag.

That is definitely NOT something we can do! On the other hand, frogs can’t build sandcastles like we can. I’m excited to try that when we get to the beach later!

That reminds me of something else that can be found at the beach, though it’s really rare, so chances are Squeaks and I won’t come across it. This really rare thing is called ambergris, and it’s something that’s made by sperm whales! Sperm whales live in the ocean, and they are really, really big.

They can grow up 12 meters long! That’s like as tall as a building with three floors! Sperm whales like to eat squid and cuttlefish, and since they’re so big, they have to eat a whole lot of them.

But, their stomachs have trouble breaking down the squid and cuttlefish beaks because they’re hard and sharp. Usually, sperm whales will just vomit up the beaks before they reach their stomachs. But if they don’t, they make a substance that helps coat their stomach so the hard and sharp beaks won’t hurt its body.

It’s like how we have mucus in our intestines to keep everything moving smoothly, although we don’t eat anything super hard and sharp like beaks! The stuff the whales make is a little different. It helps the whale pass the beaks and any other hard or sharp stuff through its body and get it out of its body.

When it’s combined with the beaks, that’s what we call ambergris. The really weird thing about ambergris is that over time, it changes from having a really nasty smell to a really nice smell! So nice that people actually started using it in perfumes!

But we don’t do that as much now because it can be really hard to find a chunk of ambergris that washes up ashore. Ambergris also looks pretty ordinary, which also makes it hard to find. And we definitely don’t want to hurt sperm whales to get ambergris, especially because there aren’t too many of them left!

So now people who make perfumes just use a chemical that smells like ambergris, instead of the real thing. Who would have thought that something whales poop out would make such great perfume! All right, Squeaks, ready for our day at the beach?

Let’s double-check that we packed our sunscreen to protect us from the sunburn like hippos …. And that we put the water bottle back in the bag so we can stay hydrated like the water-holding frog …. We probably won’t see any ambergris washed up on the beach, but it’s kind of cool to imagine it!

Oh, Squeaks, I have an idea! Maybe instead of a sand castle, we’ll make a sand sperm whale! That would be pretty cool!

But maybe we’ll make it a little smaller than the real thing. Otherwise we’d be working on it for days! Thanks for joining us!

If you want to keep learning and having fun 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!