March Turtles Beat the Hares

The Lullwater still had ice on it, but Prospect Park Lake itself was completely free of the stuff. I saw about a dozen turtles sunning themselves yesterday afternoon. These animals spent the last half year or so down in the mud at the bottom of the Lake in brumation, a form of dormancy that isn’t actually hibernation, but rather a serious slowing down of metabolism. They can get by without eating for months. They can actually stop breathing with their lungs, and instead respire/excrete through their skin when they’re in this dormant state. As a result, they are really, really chilled when they emerge in the spring. Hence the suck-up to the sun.
These all look like red-eared sliders, Trachemys scripta, a species from the South introduced up here by the pet trade and irresponsible pet owners. The Prospect Park watercourse is full of them, as is the BBG’s Japanese Garden pond. The second one’s carapace looks like it had some major trauma in the past. Should be nicely humped up like the first example; this was almost flat (they were both about 8″ long). You do get a good view of the individual scutes, or plates, that make up the carapace here, though. (Vocabulary bonus: the bottom half of the shell is called a plastron.)
I wonder when the big snapping turtle of last May will surface?

2 Responses to “March Turtles Beat the Hares”

  1. 1 Lainiebird March 10, 2011 at 10:11 am

    The turtles are beautiful! I love to see them sunning themselves on the rocks.

  2. 2 mthew March 10, 2011 at 10:17 am

    I can’t confirm this, but the turtle in the middle photo may have been holding up the world in the past (and we know that’s heavy).

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