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[Annelida] Rhythmically turtled earthworms

Geoff Read via annelida%40net.bio.net (by g.read from niwa.co.nz)
Tue Oct 23 00:51:07 EST 2007

FYI. Not new but certainly curious.

"The Wood Turtle has been observed in both captive and wild situations 
to use an unusual technique known as “earthworm stomping” to drive 
earthworms out of the ground, which are then consumed by the hungry 
turtle. The turtle accomplishes this by stomping on the ground with a 
foreleg or the underside of the plastron in a rhythmic and repeated 
pattern. The intensity of this stomping can grow to the point where the 
thumping is audible from several meters away. Typically a turtle begins 
this behavior by stomping and digging several times with a single 
foreleg, alternating to the other foreleg, occasionally raising its body 
and then driving its plastron against the ground. It then stops, moves 
forward slightly, and begins the behavior again. This activity will 
continue until an earthworm surfaces and is devoured. Stomping sessions 
can last for considerable periods of time: studies from Pennsylvania 
have reported sessions lasting more than 15 minutes, and incredibly in 
one recorded instance the session lasted for more than 4 hours 
(Kaufmann, 1989). The activity is quite profitable for the turtle; with 
worm capture rates averaging 2.4 worms per hour (Kaufmann, 1989). 
Earthworm stomping turtles are thought to be exploiting a natural 
tendency by earthworms to come up to the surface when they sense 
rhythmic vibrations in the ground, such as those generated during rain 

Kaufmann, J.H. 1986. Stomping for earthworms by Wood Turtles, Clemmys 
insculpta: a newly discovered foraging technique. Copeia 1986(4): 1001-1004.

Kaufmann, J.H. 1989. The wood turtle stomp. Natural History 8: 8-10.



   Geoff Read <g.read from niwa.co.nz>

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