Tail position affects the body temperature of rats during cold exposure in a low-energy state

Yuki Uchida, Ken Tokizawa, Mayumi Nakamura, Cheng Hsien Lin, Kei Nagashima*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Rats place their tails underneath their body trunks when cold (tail-hiding behavior). The aim of the present study was to determine whether this behavior is necessary to maintain body temperature. Male Wistar rats were divided into 'fed' and '42-h fasting' groups. A one-piece tail holder (8. 4 cm in length) that prevented the tail-hiding behavior or a three-piece tail holder (2. 8 cm in length) that allowed for the tail-hiding behavior was attached to the tails of the rats. The rats were exposed to 27°C for 180 min or to 20°C for 90 min followed by 15°C for 90 min with continuous body temperature and oxygen consumption measurements. Body temperature decreased by -1. 0 ± 0. 1°C at 15°C only in the rats that prevented tail-hiding behavior of the 42-h fasting group, and oxygen consumption increased at 15°C in all animals. Oxygen consumption was not different between the rats that prevented tail-hiding behavior and the rats that allowed the behavior in the fed and 42-h fasting groups under ambient conditions. These results show that the tail-hiding behavior is involved in thermoregulation in the cold in fasting rats.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)89-95
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Comparative Physiology A: Neuroethology, Sensory, Neural, and Behavioral Physiology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2012 Feb


  • Behavioral thermoregulation
  • Body temperature
  • Cold
  • Fasting
  • Tail

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Physiology
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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