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Thursday, March 16, 2017

Desert Tortoise Takes First Drink of Spring

Tortoise hibernation, or winter torpor, is an amazing adaptation. For 3-5 months they sleep without eating, drinking or eliminating waste. When they wake up in the spring, they need a long drink of water.

This male desert tortoise has been hibernating since the first week of December 2016. He woke up this morning March 16, 2017.

Watch him drink. His eyes and nose are submerged. He lets the water bathe his eyes and sucks water in and out of his nasal passage to flush out his nose. The Aldabra tortoise, from islands in the Indian Ocean, is known to have a flap in its nasal passage that allows the tortoise to draw water up its nostrils and into its throat without pulling the water into its lungs. I think there is a good chance that other tortoises have this adaptation as well. If you look closely you can see a brown plume area in front of the desert tortoise's nose where it has pushed away the dirt on the bottom of the pan as it blew water out through its nostrils. 

Notice how much he drinks. How much lower the water level is along his body when he stops drinking. 

The creatures around us have amazing adaptations for survival. Definitely worthy of an extra minute to stop and appreciate.

More Earth Minutes with desert tortoises:
Backyard Breakfast - Reptile Style (CA desert tortoise & western fence lizard)
Desert Tortoise Hibernation
Signs of Spring (California desert tortoise)
and other tortoises
See Aphrodisia and The Temple of Aphrodite, Anatolia, Turkey (spur-thighed tortoise)

Visit for your weekly minute in nature. 

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