U.S. Environmental Protection Agency


Date of this Version



Journal of Thermal Biology 37 (2012) 286–290



US government work


Mice, rats, and nearly all mammals and birds are classified as homeothermic, meaning that their core temperature is regulated at a constant level over a relatively wide range of ambient temperatures. In one sense, this homeothermic designation has been confirmed by the advent of radiotelemetry and other techniques that allow for the remote monitoring of awake, unrestrained animals in laboratory or natural settings. This technology confirmed that, when averaged over many hours, core temperature of mammals is regulated at a nearly constant level. On the other hand, telemetric sampling in relatively small mammals such as mice and rats also revealed that their core temperature often varies markedly from hour to hour. In other words, the mouse could be defined as a homeotherm only when core temperature is averaged over a relatively long period. Many researchers ascribe equal homeothermic capabilities to mice and other small rodents as they do to humans. Such an assumption could lead to errors in extrapolating physiological, pharmacological, and toxicological findings from experimental test species to humans.