Hibernation has always fascinated humans because it is not possible for humans to hibernate and therefore whenever you are speaking about various animals, people keep on asking do turtles hibernate or do polar bears hibernate or do squirrels hibernate because hibernation is a process which is not possible for humans and therefore they are always curious as to how other animals hibernate and what is the actual process of hibernation and what does is actually involve and how it works for different animals.
If you look at turtles you would realise that turtles also hibernate but the way of hibernation of turtles is entirely different as compared to the way of hibernation of other animals.
We would be today discussing about the hibernation of turtles and detailing out the exact process as to how they survive the harsh weather.
Do turtles hibernate?
Yes, turtles to hibernate but the impact of the environment and impact of the surrounding is more prevalent on turtles as compared to other animals which do hibernate.
The 1st and foremost factor which you need to consider if you’re taking into account the hibernation of turtles is that turtles hibernate but the surrounding temperature plays a very important role in the hibernation of turtles.
If you look at the biology of turtles you would realise that the heat which is present in the body of the turtles is not generated by their own body but it is taken by the surroundings and that is why, the surrounding temperature plays a very important role in the hibernation of turtles.
Any kind of movement or any kind of physical activity in the body of the turtles like eating or digesting something or moving around would always be dependent on the heat which they get from their surroundings. As the temperature of the body of the turtle decreases, because it cannot gain heat from the surrounding, the activity of the turtle also slows down.
Turtles are one such creature which can live in a variety of surroundings and therefore if you have seen turtles in the surrounding where there is no excessive low temperatures all the year around then most of the turtles in these parts of the world do not hibernate at all. But if at the same point you look at the turtles which are living in the regions where it gets too cold in the winter or where it snows during the winter than in these parts, the turtles do hibernate for sure.
When you’re taking the example of the aquatic turtles you would realise that they hibernate on the floor of the pond or the lake in which they are living because they go inside the mud or inside the leaves and dig themselves deep and allow the body to decrease the temperature as they cannot get the heat from the surrounding and what this does is, it decreases the metabolic activity of the turtles and also it decreases the temperature of the body of the turtles as well and therefore the heartbeat also reduces and also the demand for the oxygen by the body also gets reduced since each and every activity of the body is slowed down.
Even though the activity of the body of the turtle has slowed down when it is hibernating but it still needs a small quantity of oxygen and it is able to get the small quantity of oxygen.
During the hibernation process, the small quantity of oxygen which is required by the turtles is taken in through the water by absorbing the water through the cells in the tail of the turtle and this water would be containing at least some oxygen and this oxygen is used by the turtle by absorbing the water. The usual period of hibernation for the aquatic turtles is usually up to 3 months.
There are other type of turtles as well which hibernate but for hibernation they do not go under water because these type of turtles hardly spend any time underwater and the name of these type of turtles is the box turtles. Instead of going deep into the water and burying themselves in it, they create a hole or a ditch or a burrow and go under the earth.
They try to go as deep as possible because during the hibernation process they are not able to move and if there is any predator, which tries to eat them during this period they would not be able to do anything and therefore they need to find a safe place and that is why they try to go below the earth as far as possible.
During the hibernation process of the turtles there is always a risk that the turtles may die and the heartbeat may stop completely and this can happen with the aquatic turtles when the entire water of the pond freezes and the water at the bottom of the pond also freezes and therefore they are not able to get the oxygen.
In case of the box turtles, it depends on the ground which is around them and if it freezes then they would also be freezing to death. Both of these cases rarely happen because the water at the bottom of the pond is always in the liquid state even in the most extreme temperatures and same is the case for the ground few feet below the snow.
When the weather starts to get warm again, they would become active and end the process of hibernation and this increases the heartbeat and other activity of the body and then they are able to again gain the heat from the surroundings.
So, this is the way in which the turtles hibernate and they have been doing this process for quite a period of time and they are able to easily store of the energy in the body to hibernate and to slow down the bodily processes so that the overall energy which is required during the process of hibernation is very less and also they make sure that they have at least some way to gain the amount of oxygen which they need to go through the hibernation period so that they are able to wake up again at the end of the hibernation period when the weather gets warm again and they are able to increase their body temperature with the help of the heat from the surroundings.