Living the Scientific Life (Scientist, Interrupted)

Turtle Yoga

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“Very good but try harder to get your other leg off the ground and don’t forget to breathe and don’t strain.”

Image: Bob Levy, author of Club George. [Wallpaper size]

The photographer writes: For a change here’s something I can recommend you try at home. I serendipitously stumbled into a turtle-yoga class. Not being an expert I found it hard to interpret the significance of this one-on-one situation involving members of two different species. The smaller one looks like a Painted Turtle and the other a Red-eared Slider. Can you turtle experts out there offer an explanation.* (Please correct me if I am wrong. One is a Painted Turtle and the other a Red-eared Slider, right And neither could be a personal trainer?)

Later at home I managed to successfully perform this turtle-yoga pose myself. It was fairly easy to do for a short time but I could not hold it as long as these turtles did. At least five minutes had passed when I left them and and they continued to maintain the pose with poise, so to speak, as I walked away. I suppose their specialized anatomy was a plus. To keep those legs up it probably helps to have the advantage of a shell.


  1. #1 Shelleyi
    September 30, 2007

    And they probably do this posture a lot more easily than I can!

    They’re really cute. I’ve always been fond of turtles.

  2. #2 Annie
    September 30, 2007

    My fantasy animal is a turtle with flight feathers. How cool to be able to fly with your house as carry-on luggage!

    Love these two and their dancing yoga!

    Fond memory of a very determined snapper who daily trudged a quarter mile from his home pond to the bottom of my parents’ pool. I discovered him when I dove for fallen leaves in the deep end, and one of the “leaves” swam up to meet me.

  3. #3 David Harmon
    September 30, 2007

    Was this photo perhaps taken on a cool morning? I’m no turtle expert, but my guess would be that they’re simply basking in the sun, and stretching their legs out for more surface area.

  4. #4 Perilla
    September 30, 2007

    Turtles are cute, especially when they move.

    (Love your blog; I’m delurking just to do my part for the 500,000th comment contest.)

  5. #5 Chris' Wills
    October 1, 2007

    So is this just sunbathing and if so do young turtles need to be shown how?

  6. #6 Sven DiMilo
    October 1, 2007

    That’s an Eastern painted turtle on the left and a yellow-bellied slider (different subspecies) on the right. Nice growth rings on that slider; was this further north than their natural range?

    Commenters are correct that these turtles are basking to raise body temperature; the legs not only increase surface area but are also highly vascularized, bringing the heat to the body core faster than then the shell could alone. And this is purely instinctive behavior; hatchlings I have incubated do it.

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