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A common snapping turtle (Chelydra serpentina) hatching from its egg
A common snapping turtle (Chelydra serpentina) hatching from its egg.

The Turtle Hotline:
A Great Success!

Mike Rankin had the brilliant idea of setting up his Museum phone number as a "Turtle Hotline". Mike figured it would mean only a few extra calls, but as it turned out, the final tally was 175!


Do Not Disturb: Turtles Basking

A painted turtle (Chrysemys picta), basking in the sun.
A painted turtle
(Chrysemys picta), basking in the sun.

Suitable spots for basking in the sun are essential for all turtles whose food includes a lot of plant material, such as painted turtles. Plant material is difficult to digest. To mitigate this problem, painted turtles bask in the sun after eating in order to raise their body temperatures above 20o C, which aids digestion.

Basking sites are very scarce where the Rideau River passes through downtown Ottawa. The search for suitable spots can take the turtles far from their food source. In addition, they may bask along banks, where they are more vulnerable to capture and more frequently disturbed.

Painted turtle, Chrysemys picta.
Painted turtle,
Chrysemys picta

To improve the situation, scientist Mike Rankin and a host of volunteers have created artificial basking sites in Ottawa's Brewer Park. This pilot program was a success, and there are plans to install more small raft-like platforms in spring 2002. The platforms are clearly labelled as turtle basking spots (to tell people what they are, not the turtles!). They make excellent places to look for turtles, but please don't disturb them, they may be sleeping!

Snake shedding its skin. What kind of snake is this that is shedding its skin? To find out, browse the photo gallery!

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 Don't Overlook...

 Meet the Relatives!
A Project of the Canadian Museum of Nature
 Images: Allan G. Austin, Canadian Museum of Nature