Monday, December 27, 2010

Tortoise cold, tortoise hot

Last year, a snapping turtle was spotted and photographed (1st image) skating across frozen Red House Lake in Allegany State Park in Salamanca, New York. While most snapping turtles are hibernating under the icy water buried in the mud - during which time they do not breathe for up to 6 months - this one was "flying across the ice (faster than I have ever seen them walking across the road during the summer months)!"

This year, an exotic African spurred tortoise (2nd image) was discovered living in the desert near the Queen Valley area in Arizona. The 100lb tortoise had been in the area long enough to establish two burrows, one of them 9' deep. The Arizona Game and Fish Department reminds the public, “Finding an exotic tortoise this size inhabiting the Sonoran Desert is a reminder of how important it is not to release any exotic species into the wild.” Invasive species can spread diseases into wild populations and out-compete them for available resources, in addition to inuring the much smaller native desert tortoise while defending its territory.

While we are quick to rescue vulnerable animals from the ice (just this month, a goat, a gray fox, and a coyote), the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has decided that the native Sonoran Desert tortoise is not in dire need of federal protection.

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