One of the key components to successfully applying Thermography is understanding your subjects Thermoregulation. Thermoregulation here is described as an organism’s ability to successfully regulate its body temperature to its surroundings and maintain it within boundaries that are key to its existence.
Not all mammals have the same daily rhythmicity of body temperature. During this project, it was important for us to understand the camels challenge with daily heat. We did not need to consider dehydration (a normal problem for wild camels in the desert) in this instance as these camels are domesticated with measured daily rations of forage and water. However, the fluctuations in daily temperature require that the camel uses the mechanism Heterothermy to switch between poikilotherm (an organism whose internal temperature varies as determined by the ambient environmental temperature) and Homeothermy (ability to maintain a stable body temperature regardless of the ambient environmental temperature) strategies which are the opposite of each other.
This Heterothermy mechanism is dictated by the light-dark cycle of circadian rhythms. It was our observation that during the dark cycle (September 7 pm to 4.30 am/with ambient temperatures between 28c to 36c ) the camels body temperature could drop to 34c (no sweating occurred) and during the early light cycle (September 4.30 am to 7 pm/ ambient temperatures reached between 38 and 46 degrees) the camels temperature would rise to 40c, however it was observed that sweating started to occur in various parts of the body when the body temperature reached 36c. The highest area of sweating was observed to be the crest of the outer ear and the lowest the abdomen.
There are many more variations to consider if one is to do a full study on the effects of environment + physiology on the thermoregulation of the Dromedary Camel. However in brief for the application of Thermography, it must be understood that the evaporation (sweating) will act as an insulator, therefore, can disguise injury or disease. It is also to be considered that solar radiation also is responsible for inconsistencies in external regions of body temperature and also internal mechanisms responsible for regulating internal body temperature.
It is therefore advisable that thermography is performed when solar radiation is at its lowest and the camel’s core temperature is below 36 Celsius.