With the dwindling daylight and cooling fall temperatures, the spotted turtles of Medouie Creek have been preparing for hibernation for some time now. While we humans have enjoyed a beautiful warm and dry fall, the turtles are in need of some real rain soon! Their metabolisms have slowed and they’ve moved into dense shrubby swamps where they have buried deep beneath sphagnum mosses and winterberry holly bushes to spend the winter. All they need now is to fill those holes with water! The lack of rain on Nantucket this fall has left these swamps very dry – turtles need to stay submerged for a successful winter hibernation. Everyone do your very best rain dance!
Spotted Turtle Hibernation
- Generally they Hibernate from November-March
- Turtles are ectothermic—they cannot regulate body temperature; and depend on the surrounding environment
- They Need to stay submerged beneath the ice line to maintain a relatively constant body temperature without freezing
- Metabolism slows so that their hearts only beat once every 10 mins
- They do not come out to breathe in the winter but They can absorb some oxygen from the water through blood vessels at the surface of the skin around their throat and anus.