Basking is the process of lying under the sun. Normally reptiles resort to basking. The same is observed in insects also perform this act. What could be the possible benefits of basking?
- Every body has to be in certain temperature to ensure that the internal systems function properly.
- Maintaining the body temperature in a specified range is called as Thermoregulation.
- The range would vary depending on their:
- Size: smaller mouse need to produce much more energy than an elephant, thanks to its surface area.
- Physical activities: the monkey needs more heat energy than a crocodile.
- Environment: penguins in tundra regions require to generate more heat than the pelicans in tropical or temperate regions.
- Warm blooded creatures such as mammals and birds can produce their own temperature for thermoregulation. Almost 15% to 25% of the energy obtained from food is spent on thermoregulation.
- Cold blooded creatures such as reptiles (crocodiles, lizards, snakes and tortoises), insects, arachnids, fish cannot produce their own energy and rely on the other heat sources to keep them warm. This is the reason why they appear to be lazy in winter and rainy season where the sun does not give them enough warmth.
- Therefore whenever, time permits, the reptiles are found to be basking under the sun.
- When they feel that their batteries are charged enough for smooth functioning, they move on to the shade. They operate like solar panels with batteries.
- In case of crocodiles and few lizards, the scaly skin has parabolic pebbles which increase the surface area thereby capturing more heat quickly from the solar rays.
- The flipside to this is that they cannot be basking all the time. Overheating would cause them dehydration and other problems such as hyperthermia (excessive body temperature) which will affect their internal organs. If not warm enough they would freeze due to hypothermia (lower temperature).
- Therefore, when their body is about to hit the optimal temperature, the reptiles move on to the shady or semi-shady places.
- In case of amphibians such as frogs, they need to keep their skin wet always, even while basking.
- So, let us bask in glory observing our friends and absorbing the warmth of the sun, as even human skin needs some solar exposure for producing the much needed Vitamin D.