Ch Ch Ch Changes!

October 23, 2009 at 5:32 pm Leave a comment

With changing seasons comes changing behaviors of the animals in our education collection. Within our animal collection, a few of our reptilian friends start the process of slowing down for either hibernation or a form of seasonal resting called brumation. Since their enclosures are climate-controlled, most of the animals continue their regular activity through the winter.

DSC_0598During the first week of October, I observed 4 of our animals demonstrating their desire to rest. The Lesser Tenrec (our only mammal), the rubber boas and our Eastern box turtle have all decreased their food intake, and are less likely to greet me in the morning when their lights come on.

The Tenrec has been less active (as evidenced by the decreased need to clean up defecation). The rubber boas have preferred the cooler regions of their enclosure, rather than the warm basking spot. The Eastern box turtle is in a state of indecision. She came out to greet the squirmy mealworms I offered a couple of days ago, but she’s been burrowing in the furthest, coolest corner of the box turtle enclosure.

Over the next 3-6 months, these animals will probably decrease their activity even more. The rubber boas will enter hibernation and require cooler temperatures between 50 and 60 degrees Fahrenheit. The box turtle may enter hibernation, but she hasn’t the past 2 years. The Lesser Tenrec goes into a resting state called torpor, during which his food intake and activity will decrease, but he will roam to forage for food, on occasion, and drink water. During hibernation or decreased activity, animals often lose some body weight. It is during these times, animal care staff pays extra attention to the animals’ behaviors and food intake so we can monitor their health.

The next time you join us, check the daily activities for animal encounters, usually held weekend days in the afternoon!

Lynn Anders, Animal Care Coordinator

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About

At Fernbank Museum, there’s much more than dinosaurs and giant-screen films. Even with our website, e-newsletters, Facebook pages and Twitter updates, there’s still a lot we’d like to share with you. This blog is an opportunity for the people that keep Fernbank running and constantly expanding, to share stories from their point of view. We hope you’ll enjoy these first-hand, behind-the-scenes glimpses of what goes into keeping a world-class natural history museum running. As always, we’d love to hear your feedback on these stories, to hear your personal experiences and hear any suggestions for topics. Happy reading!

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