Over-wintering Characteristics of West-Central Wisconsin Blanding's Turtles, Emydoidea blandingii


  • Richard P. Thiel Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Sandhill Wildlife Area, 1715 Hwy X, Babcock, Wisconsin 54413
  • Timothy T. Wilder Department of the Army, Directorate of Public Works, IMNE-MCY-PWEN, 2171 South 8th Avenue, Fort McCoy, Wisconsin 54656-5136




Blanding's Turtle, Emydoidea blandingii, anoxia, cold tolerance, hibernation, dissolved oxygen, Wisconsin


Hibernation of adult-sized Blanding's Turtles was studied at two west-central Wisconsin sites between 1991 and 2008. Turtles arrived at hibernacula from mid September to early October, spending 126 to 216 days at these sites, and generally emerged in early April yearly. Sixty percent of females and 30 percent of males hibernated in natural over man-made structures as hibernation sites. Anoxic conditions near five hibernation sites ranged from 78 to 100 days. Shell temperatures of three turtles monitored over five winters remained at <1°C a mean of 2,274 hours each winter. Over the same period, four turtles' temperatures were between 0° and -1°C a mean of 302 hours. During the course of our study, hibernating west-central Wisconsin Blanding's Turtles demonstrated a remarkable degree of both cold and anoxia-tolerance similar to that observed among Painted Turtles (Chrysemys picta) and Snapping Turtles (Chelydra serpentina).