Are Snakes Endothermic or Ectothermic?

Some animals, such as mammals, regulate their body temperature through the use of internally generated heat, while other types of animals cannot produce their own heat internally and must get it fro an outside source. These two types of animals are most often referred to as “warm-blooded” and “cold-blooded,” respectively. While often incorrectly thought of as the same thing as warm or cold blooded, the classifications of endothermic and ectothermic are actually slightly different.

Being either endothermic or ectothermic is only part of what makes an animal warm blooded or cold blooded, along with factors such as the range of internal temperatures that an organism can function at, as well as the ability, or inability, to alter metabolic rate in response to temperature variables.

We humans are considered both endothermic and warm-blooded, as with all mammals. But what about snakes? Are snakes endothermic or ectothermic?

The truth is that all snakes are considered ectothermic, as well as cold-blooded. A snake does not have the thermophysiology necessary in order to internally regulate its’ body temperature. This means that snakes must get their body heat from external sources such as the sun.

In fact, it is common and essentially necessary for pet snakes to have a “heating rock” in their tank; an electronically warmed rock for the snake to warm itself on. Without such a device, the snake’s body temperature could drop too low and it could potentially die from it.

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