Don’t Panic if You See Someone Burying This Pet Alive in New York
New Yorkers will go to nearly any length for their pets, including burying them in the ground while they're still alive. Don't worry, it's for their own good.
How you look after your pet of course all has to do with what type of pet you have. While dogs need plenty of mental and physical exercise, for example, most cats can live a happy life with just the occasional head scratch or cuddle session. Some pets, however, require more specific care.
Do New Yorkers Really Bury Their Pets Alive?
An Instagram account recently went viral (again) for the very specific way they take care of two of their non-traditional pets. The account, named @dogdogcatcatnoodle in reference to the family's two dogs, two cats, and one snake, has two other pets... and they bury them alive every year.
Burying Pet Box Turtles in New York for Brumation
The pets in question are Squirtle and Jelly Bean, two Eastern box turtles. These reptiles have an annual autumn tradition of brumation, an activity similar to hibernation, where box turtles burrow into the ground as a way to survive the cold winter months. While this activity is generally reserved for wild box turtles, owner Kristie made the decision to let her pets experience their wild sides.
"It's turtle day! Time to bury the turtles!" Kristie said in her annual "Turtle Day" Instagram video. "We've been helping our pet turtles safely [brumate] for the last 25 years". The footage (below) shows a hole in their garden being dug before the turtles are placed at the bottom and gently covered with loose soil and leaves.
Box Turtles Burying Themselves in the Wild
While the video is filled with warnings for other pet owners to check with their veterinarians before attempting something similar with their own box turtles, the fascinating truth is that wild box turtles do a very similar activity on their own each year.
About Eastern Box Turtles
Eastern box turtles, which can live for up to 100 years, are "freeze tolerant", and the largest vertebrate able to survive brief freezes of their internal organs. While rare in New York, box turtles in a wildlife sanctuary in Massachusetts have been observed burrowing in leaves and soil, covering themselves to depths of up to 18 centimeters (roughly seven inches).
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Which Animals Experience Brumation?
Box turtles aren't the only animals to enter brumation. Other reptiles and amphibians, including many snakes, lizards, and frogs, experience this annual phenomenon as well. While burying your box turtle would be considered the extreme end of assisted brumation, reptile and amphibian owners can take other approaches as well, like lowering enclosure temperatures or building special hibernaculums (a specific brumation enclosure).
Assisted brumation is only recommended for experienced reptile owners, and all pet owners should check with their veterinarian before attempting any of the above activities. That being said, if you see your neighbor in their backyard with a shovel and a turtle, they're not a psychopath, they're just helping with brumation! Check out which reptiles are illegal to own as pets in New York below.
These 15 Reptiles Are Illegal To Own As Pets In New York State
Gallery Credit: Yasmin Young