There are many types of snakes, and they are found in many countries around the world. You may have already learned that snakes are cold-blooded, but you wonder if all of them are.
All snakes are cold-blooded, meaning their body temperatures change depending on their environments. So if a snake is in a shaded place, its body will be cooler than in a hot and sunny spot. Unlike humans, snakes are incapable of regulating their body temperatures.
Keep reading this article to learn more about snakes being cold-blooded. I’ll discuss why they’re cold-blooded and how their bodies work to stay warm and cool.
Why Are Snakes Cold-Blooded?
Snakes are cold-blooded because they are reptiles, and most reptiles are cold-blooded. It’s how their bodies work, making it easier for them to survive in the wild because they don’t need as much food as warm-blooded animals (like humans).
Warm-blooded animals (primarily mammals and birds) need food to give the body fuel, which helps regulate the temperature. While cold-blooded animals (like snakes) also need food, they don’t need to consume nearly as much.
Not needing a lot of food works in their favor in the wild because it means they don’t have to worry about searching for food too often and can focus their energy on other things.
To learn more about why and how snakes are cold-blooded, check out the sections below:
Snakes Change Their Environments To Regulate Body Temperatures
A snake’s environment will determine how hot or cold its body temperature is. So, it’ll often need to move from one place to another to keep things regulated. When a snake wants to be warm, it will look for a warm place (possibly with sunlight) and stay there until it needs to make itself cooler.
Once it wants to get cooler, it will move from the sunny spot to a different area, like under or behind a rock where there is shade. If a snake can’t find anywhere to cool down, its body temperature will become too hot. This situation could be fatal for the snake if the temperature remains hot for an extended period.
Also, if a snake is cold and can’t find somewhere to heat up, its body will be in danger. A snake and any other cold-blooded animal may experience hypothermia if cold for too long without enough external heat. However, it’s not just cold-blooded animals that can get hypothermia–warm-blooded animals, like humans, can also experience this in extremely cold conditions.
Their Brains Can’t Control Their Temperatures
Although snakes have brains, they are small and incapable of controlling body temperature, unlike human and other mammal brains.
In humans, for example, the body temperature is controlled by the hypothalamus part of the brain. Most human bodies have a set temperature of around 98°F (37°C), so the hypothalamus always works to ensure the body remains at this temperature.
That’s why we sweat when we’re warm and shiver when we’re cold; it’s the body’s way of cooling down or warming up, thanks to our very complex brains.
On the other hand, snakes have more basic brains, so they can’t do things like shiver or sweat to regulate their temperatures. If it’s too hot or cold, a snake can only change its environment; it can’t rely on its body and brain to help.
During colder months, many snakes will go into a state of brumation to conserve energy and slow the heartbeat. When they do this, they try to find a spot with sunlight to reduce the chances of freezing during hibernation. Many snakes remain in brumation for many months if the weather is particularly cold and harsh.
Once out of brumation, snakes can live as they normally do by keeping warm and cool to regulate their body temperature.
All snakes are cold-blooded because they’re reptiles, and it’s how their bodies have evolved. Since they rely on their environment to control their body temperatures, snakes often must move from one place to another.