Thursday, November 17, 2011
|Sun-soaking painted turtle on Crooked Lake (Indpendence Oaks County Park) Summer 2011|
photo by Jonathan Schechter
A month has slipped by since I saw my last painted turtle basking in sunlight, as relaxed as a sleepy nudist on a secluded beach. But now with the howling winds of November sending snowflakes flying painted turtles have vanished. But they are not gone.
They are snuggled down into muddy pond bottoms but they are not in hiberatation.
Turtles practice brumation, loosely equivalent to mammal hibernation. When a reptile brumates
it becomes lethargic and moves little during the cold season. Painted turtle have lungs but since
they stay under water for almost six month respirations take on a new twist: butt breathing!
This odd practice supplements their ability to exist on minimal oxygen
'Blow it out your after regions' is more than a figure of speech in the world of aquatic turtles.
Many species have a pair of sacs (bursae) opening off the cloaca (multi purpose anal opening
more or less). These areas are heavily vascularized which facilitate the uptake of oxygen.
Breathing through their butts is a trait that I fear my also be practiced
by some televangelists and the current crop of politicians.
The evidence appears overwhelming, at least to me.