Cold-Blooded Vs. Warm-Blooded Animals: What Sets Them Apart? | Kidadl


Cold-Blooded Vs. Warm-Blooded Animals: What Sets Them Apart?

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Cold-blooded animals are some of the finest examples of the environmental adaptations that exist in the world.

They have been known to populate the ends of the Earth. Cold-blooded animals have fascinating methods of regulating and changing the temperature of their bodies, which makes them wonders of nature.

The general idea of a cold-blooded animal is taken at its face value. Contrary to popular belief, cold-blooded animals do not have cold blood. Likewise, lava will not flow out if a cut is made in the body of a warm-blooded animal. The reason behind why these names are given has reasons a little more on the scientific side of things. Continue reading to find out more!

If you like reading this article about cold-blooded vs. warm-blooded animals, why not also read these articles about the lesser chameleon and smooth-hound shark on Kidadl!

Difference Between Cold-Blooded And Warm-Blooded Animals

The difference between cold-blooded and warm-blooded animals essentially lies in the state of their internal body temperature in terms of the environment that they live in, not in how hot or cold their blood runs.

The key thing to understand is that cold-blooded animals are generally species of fish, amphibians, and reptiles. Warm-blooded animals are made up of mammals and birds.

Cold-blooded animals such as fish and reptiles are examples of the categories of animals known as ectothermic. It is made up of two terms, 'thermic' relating to the effect of heat. The term 'ecto' is used to denote the outer environment.

So what does that mean when the words are put together? This means that cold-blooded animals rely on the external environment to regulate their internal body temperature. Animals such as fish, amphibians, and other reptiles use the external environment to regulate body heat.

On the contrary, warm-blooded birds and mammals are known to be endothermic. They survive by relying on internal thermoregulation and keeping their bodies warmer without depending on the surrounding environment. Endothermy means that the heat comes from within the animal. The external temperatures are sustained by the heat that the animal can produce internally.

Maintaining a constant body temperature is equally essential for warm-blooded animals as it is for cold-blooded animals. The internal heat and warm body temperature allow them to maintain their body's metabolic processes. Body heat is closely related to how the metabolism of an animal digests food.

More importantly, what is more critical to note is that cold-blooded and warm-blooded animals need to be at temperatures known as their 'thermal optimum'. This is a situation where thermoregulation is efficient, and the animal can maintain a body temperature that keeps them comfortable. If they are not at their optimum body temperature, their metabolism may not function at its maximum capacity.

Warm-Blooded Animals: Definition

What is warm-bloodedness? What do warm-blooded animals do to maintain their body temperature and survive in different environments?

Warm-bloodedness in itself describes the ability of an animal to maintain its body temperature by using its energy and generating heat internally. It is also called homeothermy, and warm-blooded animals are placed under the category of homeotherms.

To explain how body temperature is maintained, homeotherms use the regulatory mechanisms built into their bodies to combat the temperatures of the surrounding environment. One type of regulatory production that warm-blooded animals use to increase heat production in their bodies is shivering.

Similarly, panting is used to increase the loss of heat from their bodies. It works by releasing moisture from the mouth and tongue of an animal to release heat.

For birds, sweating is not an option, so when the body temperature is too high, they breathe out the heat with the help of unique body augmentations that are tiny air sacs.

This constant temperature for mammals is about 99° F (37° C) and 104° F (40° C) for birds.

Human beings are also warm-blooded mammals, and while we don't pant like our pets to expel excess body heat, the basic definitions and characteristics of other warm-blooded animals apply to us too.

Now you must wonder how warm-blooded creatures generate heat from within their bodies. Birds and warm-blooded mammals use the food they consume to generate heat in their bodies.

They use the energy they make from the nutrients they absorb from food and convert it into thermal energy to survive in colder environments. The nerves present on their skin send a message to a part of their body known as the hypothalamus. It works as a form of a thermostat for the body and is used to regulate the temperature of the body.

The nerves report the environmental temperature, which the hypothalamus ponders upon along with the brain, and then the nerves and glands are told if the body needs to be colder or heated up. Energy is then used or preserved accordingly.

They have been known to populate the ends of the Earth

Cold-Blooded Animals: Definition

The definition of cold-blooded animals is the opposite of the definition of warm-blooded animals.

When an animal is called cold-blooded, it is a description of the animal's body temperature, which will only be slightly higher than the temperature of the environment they are in. This state is known as ectothermy, wherein the body temperature of cold-blooded animals is only slightly higher than the surrounding environment. This means that cold-blooded animals rely on the environment when maintaining a constant body temperature.

Now you must be wondering, if the body temperature depends on external environmental conditions, how are cold-blooded animals able to regulate and maintain constant body temperatures?

Regulating the body temperatures of cold-blooded animals involves moving to a different environment. In the wild, it is very common to see cold-blooded animals like alligators sitting in the sun to raise their body temperature.

Cold-blooded animals are ones that come from different categories. Cold-bloodedness is a characteristic given to creatures such as reptiles, fish, and amphibians. Some species of invertebrates are also cold-blooded.

The broad range of the temperature of cold-blooded animals is 41°–50° F (5°–10° C) as the lower limit, and an upper limit of 95°–104° F (35°–40° C). However, the numbers change depending on the region that the cold-blooded animals are in. For example, in the arctic region, cold-blooded animals may have temperature ranges of below 32°–59° F (0°–15° C).

What advantages does each kind have over the other?

Cold-blooded and warm-blooded animals each bring their own benefits to the table. Their ability to regulate their body temperatures makes for some very interesting advantages.

One of the most basic benefits that warm-blooded animals have is their ability to produce the heat they need in their bodies internally by using the food that they consume. By using the food and the energy it provides to generate thermal energy, warm-blooded mammals do not have to change their environment just to heat or cool their bodies.

While this may not sound like much of an advantage, it plays into the more significant impacts of changing the environment. By changing their environment, cold-blooded animals are left susceptible and vulnerable to attacks from predators. It puts them at the risk of death just by changing the temperature of their bodies due to external threats.

However, this is not a problem for warm-blooded animals as the hypothalamus dictates body temperature regulation. If the animal is too hot, it will use systems in place that release the heat from the body. If it is too cold, the body will use the energy it has to generate thermal heat and increase the temperature of the body.

This further allows maintaining the thermal optimum more efficiently, as changing the environment would usually take more time. This provides warm-blooded animals with a better metabolism and provides for better metabolic health. The general lack of reliance on the external environment for warm-blooded animals makes for a big advantage.

Additionally, the ability to regulate the heat of their bodies gives them the ability to have a better chance of survival in harsher environments. Furthermore, a sudden change in the environment will likely be fatal to some cold-blooded animals. For example, a sudden fall in the temperature of the water reduces the amount of oxygen that a fish can take in through its gills.

A rise in the temperature of the water will require a fish to pump its gills double the amount it was previously required to keep the same level of oxygen in its body. Adding to its problems is the added requirement for oxygen that arises from the additional pumping of the gills. Death then occurs due to the lack of oxygen instead of heat.

An advantage that cold-blooded animals have in this regard is the lack of the requirement for food to generate thermal energy. It could be their weakness but also benefit them.

In the cold season, cold-blooded animals do not have to face the problem of having to seek food in order to stay warm. They can just reduce their movements, become sluggish, and continue to live out the cold in peace. However, for warm-blooded animals, the situation is slightly different. Because warm-blooded animals need food to maintain a warm temperature in their bodies, they must search for food.

This becomes a problem for them during the colder months, as prey is rarer. Waiting out the cold is not an option for them, as the food and the heat they help produce are necessary for specific body processes.

One example is when a fly gets too cold and is unable to use its wings to fly. Similarly, a grasshopper may very well lose the ability to hop temporarily if it gets freezing cold.

These examples depict the double-edged sword that is the ability to generate heat internally. One of the mammals that exist as an anomaly is the bear, which chooses to hibernate during the colder seasons of the year to preserve body heat and maintain temperature.

To deal with the problem of a lack of food, different warm-blooded animals use different tactics.

For warm-blooded creatures like birds, the lack of food is compensated for by their migration. Birds migrate to warmer climates to preserve and maintain heat while having lower food availability at home during colder temperatures.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for cold-blooded vs. warm-blooded, then why not take a look at Indochinese leopard or Italian greyhound.

<p>Siddharth is a talented content writer with over a year of experience in content writing, based in Mumbai. He is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in Multimedia and Mass Communication from Mithibai College of Arts. With a passion for reading and music, Siddharth has demonstrated his ability to create engaging content that resonates with his audience.</p>

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