Snapping Turtle walking on the Ice
You always need to be ready to expect the unexpected and last Friday was one of those days. I have seen Amphibians climbing over the ice and snow to get to their vernal pools (which should be happening soon) . . . . but I never thought about Reptiles enjoying winter sports!!! Friday I found this Snapping Turtle ice skating across Red House Lake in Allegany State Park and so I asked this turtle, “Dude . . . . what are you thinking?”
Snapping Turtles will hibernate in shallow muddy water bodies and typically become buried in the mud. When the Snapping Turtles are hibernating, they will not breathe for up to six months while the ice is covering the water! I have seen photos of snappers moving under thin ice but I have never heard of any walking on top of the ice . . . . so I think this individual was a very cool find! I located this great link that states “Snapping turtles in our latitude (Maine) begin to wake up in early May, when the water is about 41 to 50 F (5-10°C).”. OK the air temperature had reached 50°F but I know for a fact this frozen lake isn’t that warm. “Dude . . . . what are you thinking?”
After doing more online searching, a website reveled that “hibernation begins by late October; however, radiotelemetry studies indicate not all snapping turtles hibernate (Ultsch and Lee 1983)”. Hmm some snapping turtles do not hibernate? Isn’t that interesting . . . . could this be one of those freak individuals who failed to hibernate this winter? I admit this one individual was slow moving but I did not notice him comatose in any way. I actually thought for a turtle he was flying across the ice (faster than I have ever seen them walking across the road during the summer months)! You go Turtle Dude!
I am not sure if I have solved this turtle on the ice mystery but I did enjoy investigating it and capturing these photos. Here is a slide show if you would like to see more pictures of this guy and this should be a reminder to everyone that great things can be easily overlooked! I wonder how many people actually saw this guy out on the ice before disappearing in the waters edges once again?
All I can say is Snapping Turtle: March 6th 2009 (CHECK)!
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