I was out doing some weeding this morning with D’Argo. D’Argo was on a long line and he was poking around the ground, as he usually does, trying to dig things up. At one point I looked up and noticed he was lying down poking at the ground in front of him, something he does when there’s an item of particular interest, usually a cricket he’s dismembering. I went to take a look and to my horror found this tiny turtle, a hatchling Red-eared Slider.
I wasn’t sure if it was alive or dead. D’Argo had managed to pierce the turtle’s shell and plastron in two places (picture below).
Following my Dad’s advice, the turtle expert, I placed this tiny fellow in a container between well moistened paper towel, and covered the container with a dark cloth, to reduce the light. Under those quiet, moist conditions the turtle recovered, and I later found it on top of the paper towel trying to figure out an escape route. Peter and I released it around sunset in a moist part of the yard where D’Argo can’t reach. We have to hope for the best, but I’m told that turtles can survive an amazing amount of damage to their shells.
I’ll have to be more vigilant with D’Argo, especially now that turtles of all sizes are on the move.
I was heading out the back door this morning to check on my bread rising, when I came across this turtle just outside the door on our porch. I presume she was cruising by and thought the shade was inviting (it is a female). This is the second species of Box-turtle in our area, the Ornate Box-turtle. The name of course comes from the yellow ornamentation of the shell and plastron (see below). She was very cooperative. After taking the photographs I put her back on the porch, where she’s still hanging out.
She’s also quite old. I’m not sure if you can age Box-turtles the same way you age Painted Turtles in the North, but she’s probably older than 15 years, and given the scarring on her shell, probably a lot older.
If you look carefully at the underside photo, you can see two lines that cross the shell between the front legs and the back legs. Those are the hinges that allow the box-turtle to close up tight.
It was quite a surprise to find her outside my door, but a very pleasant one!
Okay, I don’t know if this is was one of the box- turtles I disturbed a few weeks ago. It certainly wasn’t intimidated by my presence. It was ready to move on by.
This is the first opportunity I’ve had to see what the Three-toed Box-Turtle’s legs and head look like. Usually you just catch a glimpse before they yank everything inside and shut their lids. Box-turtles have a hinged plastron (lower shell) that can close up the shell completely hiding the head and legs.
This box-turtle is particularly colorful. Female eye color ranges from yellow to brown, whereas males have red eyes. I’m guessing this is a female. I found out males and females will mate whenever they come across each other and the female will store the sperm until conditions are right to lay eggs.
Not a bad deal: no commitments, lay their eggs when they feel like, then walk away from the young and let them fend for themselves. If they get past the early years when their shells are still soft, and don’t get hit by a car, they could live forty or so years.
While walking the property, looking for new wildflowers, I accidentally disturbed this couple…well…um… coupling.
It’s mating season and the turtles are on the move, unfortunately many of them are casualties of inattentive or uncaring drivers. It’s nice to see live three-toed box turtles for a change.