Reptile Migration

Reptile migration involves traveling to or from breeding grounds, food sources, and hibernacula. These movements may be driven by weather and other environmental cues, or a combination of these factors.


One of the best-studied reptile migrations is displayed by Green Turtles (Chelonia mydas). Every 2-3 years these turtles move remarkably to nesting beaches, sometimes thousands of kilometers away from their feeding grounds in the open ocean.


Hibernation is a deep sleep characterized by low body temperature, slow heartbeat and respiration. Animals appear dead and can only be woken with great difficulty (a process called revivification). Hibernators spend most of the winter in a tepid torpor that is almost like daily torpor but more active, requiring a burst of energy for each breath. 파충류샵

To prepare for hibernation, hibernators eat to build up fat reserves and may line their dens (called hibernacula) with insulating materials. They also move to more sheltered habitats in autumn. Movement is influenced by weather and snow conditions with hibernation onset typically following a severe storm.

Physiologically, hibernators are in a constant state of stress. This stress reduces metabolic rates, allowing the organism to catabolize fat reserves more quickly and thus reduce arousal costs. This is a fundamental difference from the tepid torpor of daily life, and it is one reason why hibernation is often considered to be very similar to Alzheimer’s disease in humans.

Research on the effects of climate change on hibernators has been mixed. Warmer temperatures and longer growing seasons have often had positive impacts, while drier conditions have been consistently negative. This is likely due to the fact that climatic changes affect a range of different physiological and behavioral processes, making it difficult to tease out their individual effects. However, latitudinal differences in snow dynamics and phenology have the potential to magnify these effects, with Arct 파충류샵 ic and mountain hibernators being especially susceptible to shifts.


Many reptiles and amphibians use roads during spring to reach their breeding pools or to migrate to winter hibernation areas. Roads are a significant cause of death for both reptiles and amphibians. Studies have shown that high rates of reptile and amphibian road-kill can affect a habitat patch’s ability to support a viable population.

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The cool temperatures of summer drive snakes from their winter dens (called hibernacula) to the habitats they will use for foraging and mating over the next few months. In one study of western rattlesnakes, most snakes travelled about 1-10 km to their summer feeding areas and back to their overwintering sites or “dens” during migration (Outgoing).

These journeys are not unlike the travel of marine turtles undertaking long-distance nesting journeys to reach suitable beaches. Both snake and marine turtle species rely on a variety of cues to navigate, including celestial, geomagnetic, olfactory, thermal, wave and current pattern signals, and a map-compass system based on their sense of direction.

Despite the challenges of climate change, reptile migration is still relatively common and plays an important role in maintaining healthy ecosystems. Understanding how changes in seasonal movement patterns will affect future biodiversity has the potential to help managers anticipate and mitigate negative effects of landscape-scale environmental change, such as shifts in ecosystem boundaries and thermal regimes.

The authors of the study above tracked 30 snakes with GPS devices throughout their annual migration. They found that 15 of the snakes (henceforth called Forest snakes) tended to utilize forests as Destination habitats during both Outgoing and Initial stages of their migration, while the remaining snakes used open habitats for both stages of their migration, and occupied Forest-free areas only during the Late stage of their outgoing migration.


The season of fall, also known as autumn in some countries, begins with the September equinox (between 21 and 24 September this year) or winter solstice, depending on whether you live north or south of the equator. It’s the season of harvest, cooler temperatures, and shorter days.

Many reptiles—including snakes, lizards, frogs, toads, and newts—slow down their body processes to almost a halt in the coldest weather. This is called diapause, and it lets them survive for weeks or even months without eating if necessary. They hide away in the winter under logs, stones, compost heaps, old mouse burrows, and other places where they are safe from hungry predators.

Some migratory animals, like sea turtles, use the sun as a compass to help them navigate during their journey. Leatherback sea turtles have uniquely adapted skin with pink spots that sit above their pineal gland, which regulates the animal’s circadian rhythm. Scientists believe the turtles can detect changes in sunlight reflecting off the spots to help them know it’s time to start heading back toward their home.

The change in seasons brings an increased threat from vehicles, especially when a large group of reptiles migrate en masse between habitat patches. In one study of desert tortoises at SAGU, researchers found that road traffic killed over 83% of the animals. Other studies have shown that non-native, invasive animals—like free-roaming domestic dogs—also kill reptiles and amphibians.