14 February 2011 by Kate Turkington

Mud, mud, glorious mud…

One of the best experiences in the bush (for my money, anyway) is to see animals wallowing in mud. Big or small, fat or thin, young or old, there are certain creatures that love mud baths.

And a mud bath is taken not just for fun and because it feels so good, a mud bath also has a very practical application. After an animal has a good mud-wallow, the mud dries off and acts as a sun-shield. The mud also forms a protective layer and traps moisture next to the skin and helps to keep the animal cool.

Dried mud also acts as a device to get rid of bothersome insects such as ticks. A rhino (or an elephant) will go and rub itself against a hard tree until the mud breaks off and with it the parasites stuck in the dried mud. You’ll see rhino and elephant rubbing posts all over the bush.

And if you watch closely as a rhino wallows, see if you can spot small terrapins which come to nibble the parasites off the animal’s hide.

Another eco-friendly side-effect of wallowing is that f you’re a huge animal like a rhino or elephant - the 2 heaviest land animals on earth - and weigh anything between 2 to 6 tons, your habit of wallowing in mud makes useful indentations in the ground which become little pans that fill with rainwater - so you’re helping other animals and birds as well.

Category: Adventure

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