Kangaroo Rats – interesting facts
July 27, 2010 | In: Animal facts for kids
Kangaroo rats have a unique respiratory system that actually allows them to lower the temperature of the air they breathe! A famous experiment done in the early 1970s showed that kangaroo rats breathing air at 28°C exhaled air with a temperature of 24°C, even though their body temperature was 38°C! This amazing feat results in the rats losing 85% less water than had they exhaled air at their body temperature.
When a kangaroo rat breathes warm dry air, it cools the rat’s nasal passages by evaporation. The air then proceeds to the rat’s lungs, where it is warmed by the body and it picks up even more moisture. When the rat exhales, this air passes again over the now cooler nasal membranes and some of the air’s moisture condenses on these membranes. By the time the air leaves the rat’s body, it is substantially cooler than the rat’s body temperature. This is not the case for most mammals, including humans.
Kangaroo rats need this water conservation system to survive in their desert habitats. It is believed that kangaroo rats can survive indefinitely with no drinking water, surviving by conserving the small amount of moisture gotten through their food, which consists mostly of seeds.