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So-called warm-blooded animals; that is, those that maintain a constant body temperature independent of the environment. The endotherms primarily include the birds and mammals; however, some fishes are also endothermic. If heat loss exceeds heat generation, metabolism increases to make up the loss or the animal shivers to raise its body temperature. If heat generation exceeds the heat loss, mechanisms such as panting or perspiring increase heat loss. Unlike ectotherms, endotherms can be active and survive at quite low external temperatures, but because they must produce heat continuously, they require high quantities of fuel (i.e., food).
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on endotherm, visit Britannica.com.