Are Chickens Warm or Cold-Blooded?
While chickens share several characteristics with reptiles, that doesn’t make them cold-blooded animals. They indeed lay eggs like turtles, lizards, and snakes. However, their body temperature adjusts to different environments, unlike reptiles.
Chickens belong to the fowl family, which comprises heavy, ground-living birds such as turkeys, peafowl, junglefowl, partridges, and pheasants. Since they are warm-blooded, they can sustain a steady temperature in different climatic conditions. Temperature regulation makes their bodies function properly.
Distinguishing between warm-blooded and cold-blooded animals can, at times, be confusing. This is because different animal species share specific characteristics and traits. This guide will teach how chickens regulate their body temperature and the differences between warm-blooded and cold-blooded animals.
What Keeps Chickens Warm?
Chicken fluff themselves out and roost together to keep warm and stay off the cold ground. When rearing them indoors, the coop should be raised up to3 feet above the ground and have adequate space to allow the flock to roost.
A healthy chicken will have a body temperature of about 106 degrees Fahrenheit. The animal uses a protective layer of feathers wrapped around the body to keep warm. Chickens can also survive when the temperatures are below the freezing point, provided you take measures to keep the coop insulated against heat loss.
As chickens fluff their feathers, the feathers trap tiny air pockets next to the skin. The chicken then warms the air pockets with body heat and holds warm air close to the skin. Air pockets function like insulation for chickens since they prevent heat loss.
Difference Between Warm-Blooded and Cold-Blooded Animals
Warm-blooded animals are capable of sustaining a constant body temperature regardless of the outside temperatures. They can maintain a constant body temperature as they move through different surroundings. Their temperature regulation mechanisms are primarily based on regulating their metabolism.
On the other hand, cold-blooded animals are incapable of adjusting their body temperature to match the surrounding temperatures. Their body temperature fluctuates every time they move to surroundings with different temperatures. Due to this fact, it’s difficult for them to survive in areas with extreme temperatures.
Metabolic rates in warm-blooded animals don’t depend on environmental changes. For cold-blooded animals, the rates change with the surrounding temperatures.
Since they can adapt to any environmental temperature, warm-blooded animals rarely undergo hibernation. On the other hand, cold-blooded animals undergo two phases to cope with extreme climatic conditions. They include aestivation (a resting phase during summer) and hibernation (a resting phase during winter).
Examples of Warm-Blooded Animals
Only a small number of animals of all the millions of animal species in the world are warm-blooded. Warm-blooded animals are mainly divided into two groups, mammals and birds.
Examples of Cold-Blooded Animals
Reptiles, amphibians, fish, arachnids, and insects qualify as cold-blooded animals since they are unable to control their body temperature. Examples of reptiles include crocodiles, alligators, tortoises, turtles, lizards, and snakes. Amphibians include salamanders, toads, and frogs, while sharks, rays, and skates are examples of cold-blooded fish.
Examples of insects include cockroaches, butterflies, beetles, ants, and bees. Arachnids include mites, ticks, scorpions, and spiders.
How Do Warm-Blooded and Cold-Blooded Animals Regulate Their Body Temperature?
Warm-blooded animals can keep their body temperatures at constant levels (maintain thermal homeostasis). They can generate more body heat or cool down depending on the environment. Their bodies can also regulate metabolic rates when the surrounding temperatures start to rise or drop.
Metabolism in warm-blooded animals allows their bodies to burn fats and sugars at a rate that reflects the outside temperatures. In colder temperatures, they need to eat more to replace the sugar and fat reserves lost during metabolism.
Since cold-blooded animals are unable to produce their own body heat, they cope with harsh temperatures by changing their surroundings. It’s common for reptiles like snakes to lie in the sun in search of warmth. You may also see them dipping in the water, crawling into a hole in the ground to cool off.
Cold-blooded animals need less energy for survival, unlike warm-blooded animals, since they draw most of the energy required for their metabolism from the environment. They bask in the sun to gain an energy boost and improve their metabolism. Their muscle activity is based on chemical reactions, which take effect quickly in hot surroundings and are slower in cold surroundings.
What Are the Benefits and Drawbacks of Being Warm-Blooded or Cold-Blooded?
Since they have a faster metabolism, they can generate more heat when the surrounding temperatures suddenly drop. They also have a lot of stamina compared to cold-blooded animals of the same build and size since their fast metabolism quickly regenerates energy. The energy generation makes warm-blooded prey more adaptable to outrunning their cold-blooded predators.
Warm-blooded animals are able to use their bodily enzymes to regulate body temperatures. This is because enzymes thrive when the temperatures are optimum.
Since warm-blooded animals use enzymes for temperature regulation, they may get lethargic or die when the body is subjected to overcooling. Even more, they struggle to cope with colder conditions on an empty stomach since their temperature regulation abilities come from food.
On the other hand, cold-blooded animals are more adaptable to warmer and tropical areas since they rely on the sun to regulate their internal temperatures. Most of them keep their offsprings in properly-secured eggs instead of housing them internally like mammals.
One huge downside of cold-blooded animals is that temperature regulation takes a lot of energy. The animals have to spend a considerable amount of time outside to gain energy from the sun needed for metabolism.
As warm-blooded members of the fowl family, chickens are amazing animals reared for both meat and eggs. They can regulate their internal temperatures in different weather conditions. It’s also possible for them to thrive in temperatures that aren’t conducive for cold-blooded animals.
We hope that this guide helped clarify any concerns you had regarding chickens’ ability to regulate body temperature. Now you know the difference between cold-blooded and warm-blooded animals.