Monday, June 16, 2014

Turtle time

This is the time of year when the turtles get on the move.  Female snapping turtles are leaving the water and lumbering along roads and pastures looking for a place to deposit her eggs. On the one hand this can be very cool.  Discovering a 30 pound Momma strolling along the fence row can be interesting.  Of course one also needs to bear to mind that snappers can also easily crush a foot bone or snap off annoying fingers.  It's best to watch these from a distance.
By in large, snapping turtles restrict their diets to the items they find around the pond.  Frogs, snakes, eggs,  fish, and dead stuff appears to make up most of their diet.  They will also however snack on baby chicks or ducklings if the opportunity arises.  Although the hoop frame is heavy, these animals have been known to bully their way under or through the mesh to get to a tasty meal.  To keep an inquisitive puppy and the troops of chickens safe, DH used a very long handled flat headed shovel to scoop up Momma turtle, gently plop her into the hay wagon, and take her to the other side of the pasture where she would be able to find a nice spot for her eggs and less threatening to our family.
Momma turtle going for a wagon ride
If you see a turtle in the road, please make an effort to avoid her.  Although their shells look tough, they are not designed to take the weight of a car or truck.  The snapper that we relocated could very easily have been over 20 years old.  They have been known to live as much as 50 years.  Whatever you do, please do not attempt to handle them.  The first picture shows our girl with her head and neck tucked back into her shell.  When threatened, that head and neck will shoot out of that shell like a snake strike, extending out almost as far as the shell is long.  So be careful!
Turtle nest
In about 90 days, we should start seeing baby turtles.  If it's a hot summer, they'll all be girls.  If cool, they'll all be boys.  When you think about global warming, it makes you wonder about the future of these fascinating animals.

To read more about these interesting critters: click here.

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