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Part XVIII: Energy and Activity : Activity in a Changing Climate Index

Activity in a Changing Climate
How 'Warm-Blooded' Animals stay Warm
Keeping warm Requires Energy
Cold-Blooded' animals
Chapter Summary (useful for revision)
Questions relating to this chapter

Topic Chapters Index

 

The large ears of the fennec fox help it to stay cool, Bristol Zoo, UK © Shirley Burchill

The large ears of the fennec fox help it to stay cool

 

Male lion panting, Kenya  © Shirley Burchill

Male lion panting

 

Elephant seals moulting, Antarctica  © Shirley Burchill

Elephant seals moulting

ENERGY AND ACTIVITY

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How 'warm-blooded' animals stay cool

When a mammal or a bird is too hot it can do several things to cool down:

 

 Sweating

This covers the skin in a layer of water. As the water evaporates it takes away some heat.

 

Sending blood to the surface of the body

You may have noticed that when someone is hot he becomes very red in the face. This is because the body is sending blood to the skin to carry away heat. Elephants make this method of cooling even more efficient by sending more blood into their large ears. The elephant's ears radiate the heat away from the body.

 

Panting

Not all warm-blooded animals sweat. Some cool themselves by breathing in and out very quickly. Dogs and seagulls pant. The tongue of a dog has a good supply of blood. The panting moves air over the tongue and carries heat away from the blood by conduction.

 

Licking and bathing

An alternative to sweating is used by cats and rabbits. They lick their front legs and chest. The saliva evaporates from their fur and acts like sweat does on our body. The large herbivores of Africa try to keep their bodies cool by bathing in mud or water.

 

Moulting

Mammals are covered with hair and birds are covered with feathers. As we shall see these cover the body to keep it warm. Fur and feathers insulate the body. This is useful when the air is cold but it is not useful when the air is hot. In summer time mammals and birds lose fur or feathers so that their coat is thinner and they can stay cooler. We do not have much fur on our bodies but we do wear lighter clothes when the weather is hot.

 

Resting

Movement produces a lot of heat; if a bird or a mammal is too hot it rests, usually in the shade.

 

 

 

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