Every year about this time I write on the subject of turtles. This year it's a tad later than usual because of the numerous false starts to the spring season. The flora and fauna worlds seem to be confused about when they're supposed to be growing, making nests or looking for the best spot to start one. Turtles are included in this mass confusion. They began to appear on roadways at what seemed later to me than normal, but as always, they've forced motorists to practice the art of Turtle Hurdling. Seeing them is generally a sign that summer is just a whisper away. For about nine days after I spotted and swerved around the first box turtle I'd seen on the road, we had spring-like temps. Not any more. Summer is full on and with its high temps come the turtles.
Here in Missouri's southwest Ozarks, vehicle operators are accustomed to dodging darting deer, rabbits, possums, raccoons, armadillos, fox, red-tailed squirrels the size of Pomeranians, and kamikaze birds who insist on taking roadside-to-roadside flight paths instead of doing what should be a natural instinct - to fly Up. Translation: moving through space away from the earth, not across it.
Apathetic, stupid or lazy bird...
Smart bird that knows which way is UP
The turtles we encounter on our roadways most often are box turtles/tortoise, genus, Terrapene. I've re-situated a lot of these guys, carefully picking them up on both sides of their shell just behind the front legs, in case they get the urge to kick, then move them to safety, pointed in the same direction they were headed. (This is very important. They were going that way for a reason - looking for water, a nesting site, a mate - and turning them around will just put them in harms way a second time.)
Easy to do, moving box turtles; they withdraw into their shell during transit. Can't say the same for snapping turtles. They require an entirely different assistance game plan than box turtles. The best plan is to have no plan. Let them go about their business. They don't take kindly to being encouraged to vacate the premises. Where I live the common snapper, Chelydra serpentina is what's most often seen. Powerful beak-like jaws, very flexible head and neck.
Heard you're running a special on manicures...
while you're at it, I could use a wash and wax too
Had one of these lumber across my back yard a couple days ago in the direction of the bird feeder/aka squirrel jungle gym. I said to the snapper, "Take a squirrel. Please!" This was not a silly suggestion. Snappers are omnivores and will eat pretty much anything; plants, fish, newts, frogs, pollywogs, bugs, snails, worms, snakes. And small mammals, which the squirrels in these parts are not. Still. A squirrel-hating gal can only hope.
These snappers can get pretty big, but not as large as their cousins, the alligator snapping turtle, Macroclemys temminckii, commonly seen in this country's southern states. Squatty dinosaurs dressed in mini chainsaws is what they look like and can get as large as a Thanksgiving turkey platter.
Spike's the name, deflating tires is my game
The best assist you can give these creatures is with a thick stick or pole. A very long stick and pole!
There's satisfaction in coming to the aid of a untamed animal. Years ago when living in Florida I took a course offered at the local Humane Society on how to care for newborn flying squirrels after finding one at the base of a tree, eyes still closed. And got more tips and training on how to handle injured birds. Doves and cardinals were my most frequent patients. Don't know if that is a reflection on the size of their bird brains...
Near Daytona Beach I found a hatchling green sea turtle laboring across the sand. Scooped it up in a discarded to-go cup and handed it over to a Wildlife and Fisheries employee.
I put its tiny self in her hands and hoped it survived.
Any Turtle Hurdling going on where you live? Some of you have talked about other critters that make for precarious driving. Are they showing up earlier or later than they did last year?
Everyone who thinks it's time to move into a bigger apartment,
raise a leg
To cousin Jackie: HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!!!!!!!!!
Welcome to my blog. I write contemporary and historical romance suspense novels and enjoy sharing aspects of everyday life . Tune in once a week for the latest and don't be shy about sharing your own insights.