Some Snaps of a Turtle

Last Wednesday, Betsy told me there was a turtle in our yard, so of course I grabbed the camera and zoomed out to snap some pictures.

This is a painted turtle, a member of the box turtle family.

Small turtle from the front and above. Dark olive shiny shell with thin yellow lines making squares, yellow-orange inner shell visible under its head, which is mostly drawn in is dark olive with yellow stripes. Front feet are out, dark olive with bright red stripes. It does not look happy.

Our visitor.

Most of the turtles we see around here are big snappers. I would never have gotten so close to a snapper — they are vicious. When approached by people, a snapper will generally choose “fight” over “flight” or “freeze.”

Painted turtles mostly go with “freeze,” which is what this lady did. When Betsy first saw her, she was next to my ramp, digging in the wet sand with her hind legs.

When I came out to take pictures, she just struck this pose and held it, pretending to be a shiny, slightly colorful rock.

I say “she,” because most probably what she was doing was preparing to lay eggs: dig in the mud with back feet, lay eggs, cover them up, head back for the swamps.

Side view of the turtle, showing her hind feet, which are leathery-looking and sort of flat with long claws, and a long, pointy tail. From this angle you can also see more clearly the yellow of her inner shell at her front, and the pattern of red squares all around the rim of the upper shell, which is quite lovely.

She's really digging our yard. (Nyerk.)

The problem with this plan is that the location she picked is inside the fenced yard where Barnum runs loose. Barnum’s favorite food is egg. As far as I know, he has only sampled chicken eggs, but I feel confident that if he came across a delicious clutch of turtle eggs, he would be eager to diversify his diet.

Thus, I planned to pick up Ms. Turtle and carry her to a safer location, which Betsy would photograph (for this blog, of course). Before proceeding, we decided to call our local reptile and amphibian advocate (Hi, Mary!) to find out where the best place to put her was. Once I got that information, Betsy and I went outside, prepared to rescue our guest — and discovered the turtle had disappeared!

Clearly this turtle was not aware of the stereotype that turtles move slowly. We didn’t find her.

My theory as to why she took off so fast was that she was offended by my rude, intrusive behavior. Here’s what I imagine her saying.

“Hey! I did not give you permission to take my picture!

Who said you could get all up in my shell when I’m digging my nest? Oh, man, there she goes, clicking away.

Hey! Those pictures better not end up on the internet!”

Every turtle’s worst nightmare come true.

Actually, I think a worse nightmare would be having an 85-pound high prey-drive bouvier charge you down, flip you with his snout, stomp on you, bat you around with his paws, chew through your shell and maul you — leading to your slow, painful death — which would be followed by the devouring of your young.

So, I think she made a wise decision.

This was supposed to be a “Birding Thursday” post, but I think if an occasional, inspiring, non-avian siting occurs, I will include those, too.

– Sharon, the muse of Gadget, and Barnum, SDiT(?)  (denied a new raw food experience)

5 Responses to “Some Snaps of a Turtle”

  1. 1 eileenanddogs June 16, 2011 at 10:11 pm

    Summer thinks that was very unfortunate that Barnum missed getting the turtle. She thinks the stomping, batting, chewing, and mauling sounded very appropriate. She thinks turtles are offensive and need to be dealt with firmly.

    Here is a video (hope that’s OK) of Summer trying to bite through a metal fence to get to a turtle. Be sure to watch until the end when she starts growling.

    There is no human dialogue in this video except that I ask Summer “What is it? Is it a turtle?” (just before she looks at me)

    I however am very clad that your Madame Turtle made her getaway. What a handsome girl! I’m glad you had a plan to help her.


  2. 2 Sharon Wachsler June 17, 2011 at 3:36 am

    LOL! That was great. I thoroughly enjoyed that. Barnum, too, is quite adept at the digging under the fence thing when something sufficiently exciting is outside it.

  3. 3 Andrea June 17, 2011 at 3:52 am

    One thing I have learned from Jeremiah Swakhammer (the Eastern Box Turtle I rescued) is that turtles move deceptively quickly. I think when you take your eyes off them, they deploy the hover-jets and *WHOOOSH* off they go.

  4. 4 Sharon Wachsler June 21, 2011 at 11:17 pm

    LOL! I don’t think I could see the hover jets cuz she was squelching in the mud. They must have been hidden by her shell. Love your turtle’s name!

  1. 1 Painted turtles pictures | Intspaces Trackback on July 15, 2011 at 2:36 am
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