Thermal and behavioral responses to feeding in free-ranging turtles, Chelydra serpentina

Gregory P. Brown, Ronald J. Brooks

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Using temperature-sensitive radio transmitters, we tested the hypothesis that recently fed snapping turtles (Chelydra serpentina) would inhabit warmer microhabitats than would unfed individuals. We used free-ranging adult turtles from a population in Ontario, Canada near the northern limit of the species' distribution. In late July 1989, four radio-transmittered adults were fed by hand and their subsequent behavior and ambient temperature were recorded. Seven other radio-tagged individuals served as a control group. Following feeding, experimental turtles did not bask or experience an increase in habitat temperature, nor did they experience significantly warmer temperatures than did unfed controls. Instead, fed turtles buried themselves in the substrate and were less active and remained in shallower water than the control group. We conclude that in this population turtles do not use basking and thermophilic behavior to accelerate their rate of digestion.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)273-278
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Herpetology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sept 1991
Externally publishedYes


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