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.
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.
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)