After my family moved to northern Idaho, I recalled fond memories of my childhood back East. When a high-school friend told me he was planning to visit the East coast, I asked him to bring back a living reminder of my past — a box turtle. He obliged and brought a beautiful male specimen, which I named “Waldo Pepper.”
I built an outdoor pen in which Waldo puttered about throughout the summer. When winter approached, he dug a shallow burrow to prepare for the cold. I piled autumn leaves over him and covered everything with a small tarp. It can get bitterly cold in Idaho, but that winter was unusually frigid. I remember it dipped down to 30°F below zero (-34°C).
When spring came, I must admit that I wasn’t hopeful to find Waldo alive. On the first warmish day I anxiously scraped away the leaves. I saw the top of his shell, barely below ground level. “He didn’t dig deep enough,” I worried. “He’s sure to be dead.” I touched his shell and to my delight it lurched as he moved within. He had made it through that wintery blast!
I knew box turtles “hibernated,”” but I had no clue how he could survive being frozen alive. It didn’t matter to me. Waldo was alive and well!
Uncovering the Turtle’s Secret
If you’re native to the eastern half of the United States, you’re probably familiar with the eastern box turtle. During the summer you’ll see them lumbering across roads, or if you have a keen eye, you’ll spot them blending in among the jumble of yellow, red, and brown leaves on the forest floor.
[Read the rest of the article at Answers in Genesis.]