Ever have one of those weeks when you want to take a slower path?
Be a turtle.
How about that! This baby turtle popped sideways out of the grass while a human was mowing the lawn–maybe it was his first exposure to those big machines! Well, we squirrels jump, too, but this Eastern Box Turtle is less than two inches long. That’s small to be moving from a mower.
Many thanks to our friend, Irene, for sharing this photo and seeing the little turtle safely on his way!
Just in case you human readers find such a small turtle and think it’d be fun to keep it for a bit, keep this in mind: Hickory and I have noticed they snap at food continuously–food we squirrels can’t even see. You got it: little bitty bugs, teeny slugs and minuscule worms. Baby turtles eat so many critters–yes, when they are young Box Turtles are carnivores–that a squirrel couldn’t keep up with with feeding one from dawn to dusk, let alone a human.
That Hickory! I had no idea he planned to have the weekend off until I came on to post. Sorry, readers. He does have two columns back-to-back that he rarely ever misses, so in the long view from the top of the highest oak in the neighborhood, I guess he deserves a weekend off.
And luckily for me, a reader has sent in a photo of a turtle he found in his backyard, asking us to identify it. Since you missed your nature’s mystery this weekend, I’ll pause until after you view th photograph before identifying it.
This big fellow–yes, it’s a boy because he has red eyes–is an Eastern Box Turtle. We have not see enough of them this half of the dry summer. This is a species native to eastern North America that lives in our deciduous woodlands. They eat some the same things we do, only on the ground–grubs, slugs, mushrooms, wild berries. They also have stomachs like squirrels and will eat things that are poisonous to humans, so never eat what either of us do!
And by the way, both us are on the lookout for fresh water these long dry weeks! If you humans could put out water bowls at ground level, and maybe in your shady areas of the yard, we squirrels and our turtle–and toad and salamander and skink–neighbors would appreciate it!
Because Hickory missed telling you, Have a great week!
We had a report from a correspondent that some people rescued a turtle from the road in our neighborhood. Hickory and I leapt branch to branch to a spot near the golf course, thinking we’d see another pond turtle. After all, we’ve had a lot of rain.
We got there just as they placed her in a safe spot in the cluster natural area.
“This one’s a box turtle,” Hickory said. “At least it belongs on land, even if the middle of the street isn’t the best spot.”
“Eww,” I said, “What’s all that orange gunk on her face?”
He got closer. “It’s slug slime,” he said just as she pulled in.
“Yuck! They eat slugs?”
“Yep. Probably why she was in the street. The rain brings out the worms and slugs. The birds and turtles go after them, but this poor gal couldn’t get back up the curb.”
“Well, despite her poor taste in food,” I said, “she’s lucky some people with sharp eyes spotted her and got her into the woods again.”
Then Hickory did something I never would have expected. He flipped the turtle on her back.
“What’d you do that for?”
“You asked why she’s called a box turtle.”
“I did not.”
“Well, you should have. Your readers what to know and this shows why. Eastern Box Turtles close up like a box for defense. Not from you or I, but so those burly raccoons don’t eat them.”
“Ah. So… you’re gonna flip her over, right?”
“Nah, she can get herself upright again. It’s not like cartoons. She’ll stick out her long neck and get upright again.”
He ran off and I followed. But only a short ways. I waited to make sure the turtle was back on her feet. But the look she gave me wasn’t a happy one.