What Is the Difference Between Warm-Blooded and Cold-Blooded Animals?

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The difference between warm-blooded and cold-blooded animals involves the body temperature of the animal. Birds and mammals have warm blood and attempt to keep their internal parts at a set temperature. In a colder environment, their bodies create heat, and when they are in a warmer environment, their bodies cool themselves. Cold-blooded animals have the same temperature as their environment.

To generate heat, warm-blooded animals turn the energy of food into warmth. To keep a constant temperature, they have to eat much more food that their cold-blooded counterparts. Much of the energy from those calories goes directly to providing warmth. When warm-blooded animals get too warm, they pant or sweat to allow evaporation to take away excess heat, and they also reduce their temperature by entering water or finding shade. Heat is generated through their long coats. Shivering and other instinctive responses also generate heat.

Cold-blooded animals get hot when their surroundings are warm and cool down with their environment. In arid climates and other hot surroundings, cold-blooded animals can have blood temperatures that are significantly higher than that of warm-blooded creatures. Cold-blooded animals tend to show much more activity in warmer environments, becoming quite sluggish in colder ones. Chemical reactions drive their muscles, and the reactions take place quickly when things are warm and more slowly when things are cold.