Rather than sweating, rats regulate their body temperature through blood vessels in their tails. The blood vessels dilate and constrict in a process known as thermoregulation. As a rat’s body temperature rises, the blood vessels in its tail swell so that warm blood moves through the vessels to the surface of the tail, where the temperature of the blood is reduced. The cooled blood then flows back to the body, thus lowering the rat’s body temperature. A rat’s tail disperses about 17% of the rodent’s body heat, even though the tail has only 5% of a rat’s surface area.
More about rats:
- Rats can survive being flushed down a toilet, because they can tread water for as long as three days.
- There is estimated to be as many rats in the United States as there are people.
- A pair of brown rats are thought to be able to produce offspring at a rate of 2,000 rats per year.