14 April 2008

A circularly painted turtle


I found this hatchling of Chrysemys picta last Friday afternoon on a bridge by a small lake not too far from my house. It was small and its colors blended rather well with the background. I was afraid it was going to get run over by a careless hiker or a cyclist. So I picked it up and carried over to the lake.


Once I dropped it in the lake, it quickly ducked under the floating plant debris, perhaps to make itself even less noticeable.


The hatchlings of the painted turtle overwinter in terrestrial nests. Evolution has empowered them with the necessary adaptations to survive the freezing winter temperatures. In one study, 7 of 32 hatchlings survived exposure to -10.5°C. They apparently avoid freezing by supercooling.

Appreciations to Butch Norden of the Maryland DNR for confirming the identification of the turtle and bringing to my attention their low-temperature survival feats.