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The Effects of Water Depth and Substrate Conditions on Changes in Body Weight and Health Status of Captive Big-headed Turtles (Platysternon megacephalum) during Hibernation

The Effects of Water Depth and Substrate Conditions on Changes in Body Weight and Health Status of Captive Big-headed Turtles (Platysternon megacephalum) during Hibernation

Liushuai Hua1,3, Shiping Gong1,*, Xiangjing Zhong2, Jun Tao2, Yu Chen2 and Jieming Deng2 

1Guangdong Key Laboratory of Animal Conservation and Resource Utilization, Guangdong Public Laboratory of Wild Animal Conservation and Utilization, Guangdong Institute of Applied Biological Resources, Guangzhou, China
2Management Bureau of Xiangtoushan National Nature Reserve of Guangdong, Huizhou, China
3Institute of Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Science, Henan Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Zhengzhou, China

*      Corresponding author: gsp621@163.com

ABSTRACT

The big-headed turtle (Platysternon megacephalum) is endangered in the wild because of illegal trade, overharvesting and habitat destruction. Captive breeding is an effective protection against extinction, but safe overwintering is still technically difficult to captive big-headed turtles. Determining optimal hibernation conditions is important in resolving this problem. In this study, the effects of two important environmental conditions (water depth and availability of sand beds) on changes in body weight and health status in captive big-headed turtles before and after hibernation were evaluated. Results showed that providing a suitable sand bed during hibernation have a significant effect on turtle health (P< 0.05), but makes no significant contribution to body weight maintenance. An appropriate water depth (less than three times body height) is helpful for body weight maintenance (P< 0.01) when the ambient temperature is not cold enough for normal hibernation. These findings can provide technical guidance for safe overwintering of big-headed turtles in captivity, and will help facilitate conservation of this endangered freshwater turtle species.
 

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Pakistan Journal of Zoology (Associated Journals)

December

Vol. 49, Iss. 5, Pages 1937-2341

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