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Cold Blooded and Warm Blooded Animals

Biology | 7-14 yrs | Interactive

With a few exceptions, all mammals and birds are warm-blooded while all reptiles, arachnids, insects, amphibians and fish are cold-blooded. Now, what does it mean to be warm-blooded or cold-blooded?

What are cold blooded animals?

Cold-blooded animals’ body temperature is regulated by the environment. They become ‘hot-blooded’ when their environment is hot and ‘cold-blooded’ when their environment is cold.

6 Interesting facts about cold blooded animals

  1. Cold-blooded animals remain active and alert in warm environments and become very slow and lazy in cold environments. This is because the activity of their muscles depends on chemical reactions that take place quickly when it is hot and slowly when it is cold. Most of the food that cold-blooded animals eat gets converted into body mass.
  2. Cold-blooded animals like reptiles and amphibians do not have any special adaptation mechanisms. They bank on their environment to regulate their body temperature. If their body temperature rises, they must move into the shade or into water to cool down, and if their body temperature drops down, they must move into the sun to warm up.
  3. When it becomes too cold outside, cold blooded creatures like snakes and lizards do some ‘sunbathing’ to warm themselves up. While basking, these clever reptiles lie at right angles in the direction of the sun to receive maximum amount of sunlight. Once warmed up, the metabolism of these animals accelerates, resulting in producing more energy and heat. When it is hot, these animals lie parallel to the sun’s rays, take refuge in a shady area or burrow into cool soil.
  4. In winters, fish move to deeper waters or migrate to warmer waters. Insects like honeybees stay warm by ganging up together and moving their wings to generate heat. Some fish have a special protein in their body which does not allow their blood to freeze and helps them survive very cold water temperatures.
  5. Broadly speaking, the bulk of cold-blooded animals like snakes, lizards, toads, frogs and turtles prefer to just find a cozy corner and snooze till the winters are over. This is also known as hibernation.
  6. Cold blooded animals become really sluggish and unfit to hunt, mate or reproduce, if their body temperature goes down a minimum level

What are warm blooded animals?

Warm-blooded creatures are smart enough to regulate their own body temperature. Warm-blooded animals try to keep the internal temperature of their bodies constant by either generating their own heat when they are in a cooler environment or by cooling themselves when they are in a hotter environment.

8 Interesting facts about warm blooded animals

  1. To produce heat in the body, warm-blooded animals convert the food that they eat into energy. Only a small amount of the food that a warm-blooded animal eats is converted into body mass; most of the food is used to maintain a constant body temperature.
  2. Warm-blooded animals have special organs and methods for maintaining their body temperature. If we are too hot, we can sweat to cool down, and if we are too cold, we can shiver to warm up, keeping our body temperature at a constant level. In other words, our own body has the ability to keep us at 98.6*F. The dogs that you see panting on the streets in summers are also actually busy in cooling themselves off.
  3. It is interesting to note that only mammals can sweat. Primates, such as humans and monkeys have sweat glands all over their bodies while dogs and cats have sweat glands only on their feet. But, surprisingly they never seem to have stinky feet! Some mammals do not have any sweat glands, like the whale that lives in the water. Why? Because they live in water, for heaven’s sake, why would they need sweat glands?
  4. Large mammals like elephants, however, do face difficulty in bringing their body temperature down. That is why they love to bathe in ponds and lakes for long hours. It is for this reason that hippos are extremely fond of wallowing in wet mud. Mammals that live in colder regions of the world have a thick coat of hair to help them in keeping warm. In summers, they shed their hair and maintain their body temperature.
  5. There are many advantages to being warm-blooded. Warm-blooded animals can live almost everywhere on the Earth, be it in the continent of Antarctica or the Death Valley in California.
  6. A major disadvantage of being warm-blooded is that warm-blooded bodies are more susceptible to infections and diseases. Bacteria, virus and other germs prefer living in the bodies of the warm-blooded animals rather than living in the bodies of cold-blooded animals. Cold-blooded animals are spared by most of the disease-causing germs because they constantly change their body temperatures and make it difficult for the invaders to survive.
  7. However, to combat this problem, warm-blooded animals have a strong immune system. Without it, it would really have been difficult for all the warm-blooded animals to counter the wide variety of disease-causing germs present in the environment.
  8. Both warm-blooded and cold-blooded animals have unique abilities and strategies to keep themselves alive in their environments. Neither is better than the other; it is all about surviving against all odds!