Animals too reach for umbrellas in rainstorm

PUBLISHED : Monday, 18 August, 1997, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 18 August, 1997, 12:00am

When it rains in Hong Kong, some shoppers scurry for cover with newspapers over the heads and a sea of umbrellas appears.

Others try to shelter under plastic bags.

But what do animals do when the heavens open? Large animals like elephants, cattle and horses just stand patiently unless it is a really violent storm.

But imagine how heavy a raindrop would feel if you were an ant! They and other small creatures stay in their nests if it rains, or take whatever shelter they can find.

There are some ants which live on the North American prairies which cling together in a ball when it floods.

The ball rolls over and over in the water, so each ant gets a turn to breathe. Few drown.

Most small birds take cover in a tree, although they may continue to hunt food among the branches.

Ducks do not mind, as they can use their bills to spread a special waterproofing oil all over their feathers.

All birds have this waterproof oil, but ducks' oil is the most effective. Ducks also tuck their heads under their wings and sleep.

Deer might deliberately leave the shelter of the forest to go out into the open, as the noise of rain pattering on leaves might stop them hearing a predator's approach.

The orang utan uses the same principle as we do - breaking off branches to use as an umbrella or building a roof from them in a tree.

There are also reports of a moorhen - reluctant to leave its nest - pulling a bit of plastic over its head! WWF HK is a charity environmental organisation. Its mission is to build a future where people live in harmony with nature. For details, call 2526 1011.