Wild File Q&A: Why do turtles spread their legs and feet out when they rest on logs?

Q: Why do turtles spread their legs and feet out when they rest on logs?

turtle on a log
A Red-bellied Turtle basks in Bird Rookery Swamp.

 

A:      Turtles are cold-blooded animals, so they cannot control their body temperature internally. The only way they have to raise their body temperature is to bask to absorb warmth and vital UV rays. While heat is radiated to their bodies from their shells, they often stretch out their legs to collect additional heat.

Usually, their feet completely widen out at the same time to increase the surface area even more. They are able to engage in thermoregulation and their metabolism functions become elevated. As a result, the efficiency of their immune and digestive systems increases. Another benefit is that they absorb important UVB rays in sunlight. UVB rays become metabolized into vitamin D3 which is necessary to process calcium.

– Dick Brewer

www.dickbrewer.org/CREW.html.

 

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