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Nature & You: Do ice-covered ponds pose a threat for snapping turtles?

Death and taxes.

There's no escaping either of these.

But, then again, maybe a small dose of whimsy and imagination would help.

I am of a wont to daydream about what my life might be like as a snapping turtle. That would be but one way of side-stepping life's ever-annoying requirement to pay Uncle Sam his due.

My life as a snapping turtle would require me to enter a state of hibernation during the bitter cold days of the winter season. These aquatic reptiles seek out the deep goo and muck at the bottom of the pond.

Would you please explain to me how an air-breathing creature such as this manages to secrete itself away in the bottom of an ice-covered pond and avoid the problematic situation of potential asphyxiation? Fish manage just fine; they're outfitted with gills under their cheek flaps. Not so the snapping turtle. This reptile breathes with lungs, not gills.

You can't fathom the answer? Time's up! Let me clue you in as to what is going on. The answer, of course, is to be found in the south end of a north-going turtle. As wildly fantastical as it might seem, the snapping turtle ekes out a winter existence by subsisting on a very minuscule amount of dissolved oxygen in the pond water that flows into that opening at the rear of this reptile's body. Please don't embarrass me by insisting upon a more descriptive explanation of this marvel of nature.

Upon further reflection, I've come to the conclusion that my life re-engineered as a snapping turtle might not be so quixotic, after all.

Well, darn!

Neil Garrison was the longtime naturalist at a central Oklahoma nature center. His email is