Are Reptiles Cold-Blooded?
It is estimated that there are over 8,000 species of reptiles alive today. With lizards, turtles, snakes, and other unique species, there are many reptile enthusiasts out there curious to some of the most interesting facts about their favorite creatures. A particularly interesting characteristic of reptiles is their blood temperature, as they are all cold-blooded creatures.
What Does “Cold-Blooded” Mean?
Cold-blooded, or ectothermic animals, can not regulate their own body temperature. Instead, they must rely on their external environment to warm their bodies up. Examples of ectothermic animals include:
In comparison, endothermic animals, such as mammals, birds, and some reptiles, use biochemical processes to help regulate their body temperature. This process is known as homeothermy.
Adapting to the Environment
Ectotherms rely on their external environment to help regulate their body temperature. That’s why many can be seen soaking up the sun, lounging on a rock, and climbing up trees. Reptiles such as snakes, in particular, are dependent on their external environment in order to produce enough energy to hunt and capture prey. During times of cold, many species of reptiles shut down, become inactive, and sometimes even hibernate.
Impact of Global Climate Change
The warming of our planet, due to global climate change, has had a massive impact on the abilities of cold-blooded animals to regulate their body temperature. Many species have begun to adapt to the changing environment by altering their behavior, or by migrating to cooler climates; however, others may struggle to keep up with the rapid changes in temperature.
Ectothermic animals, such as reptiles, rely on their external environment to help regulate their body temperature. While some species are able to adapt to the changing environment, global climate change has had a largely negative impact on many species of reptiles. Consequently, it is up to us to take the necessary steps to mitigate the effects of global climate change and preserve the life of these cold-blooded creatures.