Winter Turtles

While most of the wetland’s water remained frozen-over on Thursday (1/11), there were many areas of open water. It was through one of these open areas of water that I spotted a roundish, dark object on the muddy bottom of the foot-and-a-half-deep water. The object was a mere 10 feet from the boardwalk so it was easy to determine that it was a turtle, a yellow-bellied slider. The slider remained motionless while I watched.

Yellow-bellied slider motionless on bottom of pond.

Of the five species of aquatic turtle in our wetlands the yellow-bellied slider is the one I most expect to see during winter. While the other species are brumating, buried in the leaf litter or mud of the pond, yellow-bellied sliders can sometimes be seen basking on a log or rock following a few days of relatively warm, sunny days. It has certainly been warm lately but the sun has only shown itself briefly and sporadically over the past several days.

Still, this turtle (above) may have been roused by the warming water and brief sunlight of the past few days. I would predict we’d see this and perhaps a few other turtles out basking over the next few days (it’s supposed to reach 70 degrees today). However, the forecast is for overcast and rain today, temps falling into the thirties and forties for highs for the next five days beyond. We may have to wait another week or more to see a winter-basking turtle.

An hour or so later, I came back to the same location that I’d originally spotted the turtle and it had moved on, presumably to fall back into brumation and wait for another warm and hopefully sunny day to haul out on a log and catch some winter rays.

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