With a few exceptions, all mammals and birds are warm blooded, and all reptiles, insects, arachnids, amphibians and fish are cold-blooded. The temperature of an animal’s blood is related to its body temperature and determines whether or not that animal is warm blooded or cold blooded. Bats however, are one of the exceptions mentioned above, as they do not fall neatly into either category since they are unable to maintain a constant body temperature, and cool off when they are not active.
Warm Blooded Vs. Cold Blooded: What Does It All Mean?
Warm-blooded animals such as mammals and birds try to keep the inside of their bodies at a constant temperature. They are able to do this by generating their own heat when in colder environments and by cooling themselves when in a hotter environment. To generate heat, warm-blooded animals convert the food that they eat into energy. In order to do this, it means that they must eat a lot of food, especially when compared to cold-blooded animals. Doing so helps them maintain their constant body temperature. Only a small amount of the food that a warm blooded animal eats is actually converted into body mass. The rest is all used to fuel their constant body temperature.
Cold-blooded creatures on the other hand take on the temperature of their surroundings. This means that they are hot when the environment they are in is hot, and they are cold when the environment they are in is cold. Cold-blooded animals are much more active in warm environments and are quite sluggish in cold environments. This is due to their muscle activity, as it depends on chemical reactions which run quicker when it is hot and slower when it is cold. A cold-blooded animals is able to convert much more of its food into body mass than a warm blooded animal.
Staying The Right Temperature
In order to stay cool, warm-blooded animals sweat and/or pant to lose heat by water evaporation. They are also able to cool off by moving into a shaded area or by getting wet. In addition, only mammals can sweat. Warm-blooded animals can also shiver to generate more heat when they get too cold.
Cold-blooded animals differ from warm-blooded animals. They can often be found basking in the sun to try and warm up and increase their metabolisms. While basking, certain animals such as reptiles will actually lie perpendicular to the direction of the sun in an effort to maximize the amount of sunlight that will fall onto their skin. They can also expand their rib cages to increase their surface area and will darken their skin to try and absorb more heat. When reptiles are too hot, they will lie parallel to the sun’s rays, go into a shady area, open their mouths wide, burrow in cool soil or lighten their skin color.