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Are Chickens Warmblooded or Coldblooded?

While chickens may share a number of fascinating characters with reptiles, that does not mean that they are cold-blooded animals. Yes, they do lay eggs like snakes, lizards, and turtles but there are many things that are very different between the two.  

Are chickens warm-blooded or cold-blooded? Chickens are part of the fowl family and they are warm-blooded animals. These animals can regulate their body temperature which means that they are able to sustain a steady temperature in various climates. They must maintain a steady internal body temperature for their bodies to function properly.

Understanding the difference between cold-blooded and warm-blooded animals can sometimes be confusing, especially when different species of animals tend to share certain traits and characteristics. Chickens are unique animals that are often misunderstood. The following information will help you understand them better and learn more about how their bodies function.

chicken coop

Differences Between Cold-Blooded and Warm-Blooded Animals

There are many differences between cold-blooded and warm-blooded animals. Their bodies respond to environmental conditions in vastly different ways depending on which category to which they belong.

Temperature and Environment

Warm-blooded animals like chickens are able to maintain steady core body temperatures in various types of weather. Unless it is extremely cold or extremely hot, warm-blooded animals can easily handle changes in the outside temperature. They can hunt and roam around during hot or cold weather with no problem.

Cold-blooded animals such as lizards and snakes are not able to regulate their temperature internally. This means that they must have outside forces to help them maintain a steady temperature. Their core temperature will vary depending on their environmental temperature.

If the outside temperature drops to 35 °F, then their core temperature will drop to 35 °F unless they find a warmer location. The same will occur with higher temperatures. Cold-blooded animals have a hard time functioning in moderately hot or cold environments and will often move very little during these times.

Body Function and Energy

Warm-blooded animals need regular food in order to survive. They derive their energy from the foods that they ingest. Without an adequate food supply, they are unable to function properly, and they are unable to maintain their internal temperature adequately.

If a warm-blooded animal cannot regulate their body temperature, their bodies will not function properly. A lack of food can quickly prove fatal for warm-blooded animals.

If they have a proper diet, warm-blooded animals can thrive in various climates. Even in cold weather, they will be out looking for food sources.

Cold-blooded animals can survive long periods without a lot of food because they derive their energy from outside sources, not from food alone. These animals derive their energy from their environment.

lizard on branch

They use energy from the sun and warmer temperatures to move and function, hence why it is not uncommon to spot lizards and turtles resting in the sunlight.

In colder temperatures, however, their energy is limited and they are unable to move quickly. This is why you will rarely see reptiles in cold environments, as their bodies cannot handle the lack of energy so they are inactive during these times. (source)

How Do Chickens Thermoregulate?

Chickens thermoregulate their body temperatures through their respiratory system. They have multifaceted respiratory systems that perform a variety of tasks including removing excess heat from a chicken’s body.

Chickens are members of the fowl family which are all homeothermic animals, meaning that they maintain their own body temperature. As their bodies function naturally, chickens produce heat which must be expelled from their bodies to avoid overheating.

Their internal systems will also heat up when they are exposed to hot weather conditions. To combat this natural occurrence, homeothermic animals like chickens will expel this surplus heat through their respiratory system and their skin.

A chicken that is hot might hold his wings out away from his body to allow heat to escape. A chicken will seek shade when available to help themselves cool down.

They will also breath more rapidly to cool their bodies more quickly. In cold temperatures, chickens are able to maintain their body temperature thanks to their feathers and body fat.

Can Chickens Get Too Hot or Cold?

While chickens are able to thermoregulate, it is still possible for chickens to get too hot or too cold which can have fatal consequences. In extremely high or low temperatures, chickens may be unable to thermoregulate.

If a chicken is suffering from a sickness or injury, they may struggle to maintain their internal body temperature. Young chickens are most susceptible to extreme temperatures and will struggle to keep their temperature constant.

It is important to provide shelter to your chickens during extreme weather. The shelter will help them avoid becoming too hot or too cold and will aid them in thermoregulating when needed.

Final Thoughts

Chickens are truly amazing animals and their bodies are capable of remarkable things. As warm-blooded members of the fowl family, healthy chickens are able to internally regulate their temperatures in a variety of weather conditions. They can flourish in temperatures that cold-blooded animals simply cannot.