Image for Frozen turtles

Frozen turtles

Duration: 03:06

Newly-hatched painted turtles are in an underground nest in North America. It is late in the year and cold outside so if the hatchlings climbed out of their nest now they would find nothing to eat. Instead, they stay where they are. As winter comes, the temperature falls to -10 degrees and ice crystals form around - and inside - the babies. But their tissues are protected by a kind of anti-freeze. For six months the turtles remain in a frozen state that would kill any mammal or bird. When spring comes, the ice around and inside them melts, and they slowly come to life. It takes a while for them to be fully-functioning but eventually they are ready to dig themselves out of their nest and find the nearest pond. Meanwhile the parents are already preparing to breed again, with the male courting the female by gently strumming her cheeks with his long claws... and she responds.

Available since: Fri 15 Jan 2010


Key talent
David Attenborough
Key talent
David Attenborough

This clip is from

Life in Cold Blood The Cold Blooded Truth

1/5 David Attenborough reveals the truth about cold-blooded reptiles and amphibians.

First broadcast: 04 Feb 2008

Image for The Cold Blooded Truth Not currently available on BBC iPlayer

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