Are chickens cold-blooded or warm-blooded?

Even though people have been categorizing animals for years, there are some animals that share many traits of other animals from different family groups, which may cause confusion.

The example is warm-blooded and cold-blooded animals. There is no way to tell from the outside which is which; and animals like chickens share some similar traits like reptiles – cold-blooded animals. So Are chickens cold-blooded or warm-blooded?

Are chickens cold-blooded or warm-blooded?

Chickens, along with many other animals in the bird family group, are warm-blooded animals like mammals. They can regulate their body temperatures to maintain them at a fixed healthy range.

People may be confused about whether chickens are cold-blooded or warm-blooded. The chickens share many characteristics with reptiles; one of the most noticeable traits is both lay eggs.

Those traits won’t make a chicken cold-blooded. There are many more things that set the chickens apart from the lizards, snakes, turtles, etc.

Chickens are warm-blooded animals. They can and have to regulate their internal temperature at a steady rate regardless of the outside weather in order for the bodies to function properly.

Further reading: Are chickens mammals?

How are cold-blooded animals different from warm-blooded animals?


Chickens are warm-blooded animals
Chickens are warm-blooded animals

There are many things that separate cold-blooded animals and warm-blooded animals. The names don’t give much imagination when trying to tell one type apart from another.

The main difference lies in how each type of animal adjusts its body temperature against outside weather conditions.

Temperature change

Warm-blooded animals

Warm-blooded animals like birds and mammals can regulate and maintain a constant range of temperature against weather conditions. Warm-blooded animals can handle certain changes in the environment’s temperature just fine.

However, extreme weather will affect their bodies, so they will try to find a shelter instead to get the temperature back to normal.

Cold-blooded animals

On the other hand, cold-blooded animals such as reptiles, amphibians, etc. can regulate their internal temperature. Just like the case of warm-blooded animals in extreme weather, they will need the external environment to help.

As a result, cold-blooded animals don’t really have a fixed range of body temperatures. However, there is a temperature range that their bodies can function normally. Their core temperature fluctuates and changes according to the environment.

Outside of that comfortable temperature range, cold-blooded animals will find it difficult to function, even the offset temperature isn’t too much. That’s why some choose to stay immobile during very hot or cold weather.

Body Function and Energy

Warm-blooded animals

Warm-blooded animals need to consume food to survive since that is where all of their energy sources come from.

Inadequate amounts of food will make their bodies unable to function, which in turn lose the ability to regulate the temperature. The worst case could be death.

Keep in mind that the unbalanced amount of nutrients in the consumed food can also lead to body malfunction, so they will need to eat a decently wide range of food.

They can train their bodies to better resist extreme weather too, but it is for increasing the chance of getting food even in extreme weather.

Cold-blooded animals

In contrast, cold-blooded animals can survive for a long time without food. They can take energy from the food and the environment too, and they don’t lose too much energy while staying immobile.

Some reptiles are able to extract energy from the sun and warm temperatures. That’s why lizards, turtles,.. will often lay and rest in the sunlight.

In cold temperatures, cold-blooded animals can’t move quickly, so they will choose to take shelter and remain inactive to preserve their energy.

Chickens are warm-blooded animals
Chickens are warm-blooded animals

How Do Chickens Thermoregulate?

Chickens, or many birds in general, use their respiratory systems to regulate their bodies’ temperatures. Chickens’ respiratory systems are multifaceted and can do multiple tasks, including removing excess heat.

Birds, in general, are homeothermic animals, which means they can keep a constant range of temperature, and the temperatures are relatively high.

Additionally, their bodies’ temperature will increase when exposed to hot weather on top of the already hot body temperature. So to avoid overheating, chickens need to release the heat using the respiratory system and the skin.

When a chicken is hot, it might spread its wings out away from the body or stretch its body out. And it will find some shades nearby to avoid the heat and cool themselves down.

You will notice that a chicken will breathe more rapidly for a quicker cooling effect since that is one step in the chicken’s respiratory process.

In cold weather, chickens maintain their body temperature using their feathers to keep the heat and fat to use stored energy.

Can a chicken’s temperature get too hot or too cold?

The chicken’s body can only work to some extent to keep its temperature in check. When exposed to extremely high or low temperatures, the chicken’s body won’t be able to thermoregulate and will increase or drop.

There are also many factors that may stop the chicken from regulating its internal temperatures, such as sickness or injuries; this problem is more serious on baby chicks

The chickens will depend on the environments to keep them in their ideal temperatures in extreme weather. So it is important to provide your chickens, especially baby chicks, with a good shelter.

Final thoughts

So, are chickens cold-blooded or warm-blooded? Chicken, along with other animals in the bird family group, is a warm-blooded animal. They have the ability to regulate their body temperature to keep it steady.

Warm-blooded animals like chickens will need food to survive, but they can handle small to mild changes in the environment’s temperature. Unlike cold-blooded animals that stay inactive in too hot or cold weather.

Chickens use fat and the respiratory system to regulate their temperatures. But extreme weather will still cause danger to their bodies. So it is important to provide them with good enough shelter so they can keep themselves in their ideal body temperatures.


Image credits – Photo by Jonathan Taylor, Arib Neko  on