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post #1 of 4 (permalink) Old 10-29-2009, 10:59 AM Thread Starter
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Arrow turtles

My students have found hatchling snapping turtles on our campus. It seems too late for them to survive inpending winter in upstate New York. Is it unusual for them to hatch this late in the fall?
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post #2 of 4 (permalink) Old 10-29-2009, 12:51 PM
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It isn't too uncommon. Snapping turtles tend to spend most of their time at the bottom of ponds/streams/etc... and when you consider that things may freeze on top, the bottom is usually not frozen. They bury themselves in the mud at the bottom, and it maintains a pretty constant temperature throughout the winter, since water tends to hold a more constant temperature than open air.

Plus, snapping turtles have an exceptional ability to withstand the cold. There have been studies shown that they can get down to a 34F/1C body temperature, without harm. Of course, freezing is still deadly, which is why they need to be in water/mud deep enough to maintain temperatures above freezing. During the winter months they don't need to come up for air, so don't expose themselves to freezing temperatures; they actually use special membranes in their neck and throat to filter oxygen directly from the water. Since they're metabolism is so drastically slowed down, their oxygen requirements are greatly reduced.

One thing that would be deadly is if the temperature dropped too fast for them to find an appropriate place to over-winter, or if the body of water was shallow enough to completely freeze.

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post #3 of 4 (permalink) Old 10-29-2009, 09:05 PM
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Most that they find won't survive the first year of life anyway. That's just how nature works. Predators, cars, poor overwintering, etc. All add up to a very high mortality rate.

If you can find them a good pond or deep creek (that won't freeze solid like Rav suggested), you can give them a slightly better chance to survive the first winter.


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post #4 of 4 (permalink) Old 10-29-2009, 09:19 PM
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just dont keep them as pets!
I have a snapping turtle named Bowser. He is about 7 years old. He was a "free to good home" add in the paper.
I would love to release him but since he was bred in captivity (thats what the lady told me anyway) I dont know that he would make it!
He is a very boring pet, he just sets at the bottom of his swimming pool most of the time.
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snapping turtles

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