Turtles breathe underwater with Cloacal Respiration: A Moment in Science

Turtles breathe underwater with Cloacal Respiration: A Moment in Science


[Various gross animal sounds] This is a Painted Turtle one of North Carolina’s more attractive aquatic turtles. However, it’s got a pretty unattractive way of breathing at least in the wintertime. during the summer you’re likely
to find this turtle basking in the sun
on logs in lakes and ponds but in the wintertime it submerges and goes to
the bottom of that lake or pond and it hibernates and it slows its metabolism down and it doesn’t use a lot of oxygen. However it does need some oxygen and it gets that oxygen through a
process called cloacal respiration. that is, it breathes in water, not from
this end
(head) but from this end (tail). Let me explain. Let’s say that this turkey baster is
the other end of the turtle, the cloaca. and this colored dye will represent
the oxygenated water. Here’s how it works. The oxygenated water is pulled
into the cloaca and then expelled. It’s pulled in and then the oxygen is extracted. And although it may seem like an
unusual way for a turtle to breathe in the end, for the turtle, it turns out to be
a pretty effective way of getting through the winter.

6 thoughts on “Turtles breathe underwater with Cloacal Respiration: A Moment in Science

  1. Public speaking teaches you to use your hands when speaking to illustrate a point better. They should have also noted that you shouldn't do that while holding a living thing in your hand. That poor turtle's insides must have been turned to mush by the time you finished recording this.

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