New Mexico's Pet Resource FALL 2003


How much do you know about animals? Test your knowledge. Answers at bottom.

Q. How do cold-blooded creatures such as lizards, tortoises and snakes, deal with New Mexico’s wide range of temperatures?   ANSWER

A. Warm-blooded animals such as squirrels, rabbits, horses and humans maintain a stable body temperature through metabolism for heat and transpiration (such as sweating, panting, and radiation) for cooling. The body temperature of cold-blooded animals, on the other hand, is determined entirely by their surroundings. This is why you will often see a lizard in the cool of the early morning lying broadside to the sun and soaking up its heat. In the intense heat of the afternoon that same lizard may align its body to present the smallest possible area to the sun, or it may even seek shade. By changing its position relative to the sun the lizard can regulate the temperature of its body so it can stay active. If the temperatures become too extreme to be regulated by the heat of the sun, other techniques are used. Many cold-blooded animals hibernate [Latin hiberna, winter house], or sleep through the coldest part of winter. Some cold-blooded animals, such as desert tortoises, may aestivate [Latin aestiva, summer house], or sleep through the hottest part of summer.


Source: Desert Animals, Jen Green, Dempsey Parr Books, Bath UK, 2000

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