Thursday, February 25
During this time of year, most of our reptiles that we keep outside during the warmer months are inside to stay toasty and warm. Yet, a number of our box turtles are currently outside in their pens that they are kept in all year long. They aren’t exactly left outside, exposed to the elements, but are kept in what we call a hibernaculum (hibernacula for plural). For the past five years we have been keeping McCord’s box turtles (Cuora mccordi), flowerback box turtles (Cuora galbinifrons), Mexican box turtles (Terrapene mexicana), and keeled box turtles (Cuora mouhotti) in our hibernacula. These hibernacula are basically a turtle cave that insulates them for the harsh extremes of our winter. They stay above 45 degrees Fahrenheit, even when it dips into the 20s. The reason we do this is because it is natural for them to go through this dormant period. They come from a temperate climate similar to ours. Allowing them to go through this part of their annual cycle induces natural physiology and behaviors, especially in regards to reproduction which is important to them and us because they are endangered species. This supports our conservation agenda to reproduce these rare species so they can live on for many more generations.
Keeper III, Herpetology