Ah, these lazy days of summer!
We admit it! We cannot find a decent ‘X’ for this year’s challenge. Like with ‘U’ we are resorting to the name. But that shouldn’t offend many people because the Eastern BoX Turtle is a well-loved animal in our area.
These fellows are docile dweller on the forest floor, hiding quite well with their camouflaged shells and eating everything from slugs and worms, to berries and mushrooms, and even the poisonous mayapple if it isn’t consumed at exactly the peak of ripeness, which a box turtle can tell by smell.
That said, they aren’t as smart of as fast as some squirrels we know. In our ever-increasingly busy neighborhoods they still try to cross the roads.
Please give them a ‘brake’ if you see one, and stop to help them across the road. It’s sad to see these ancient creatures declining because of our technology.
For today’s mystery, I’m asking if you know what kind of turtle this is?
I’ll check back later for your answers!
We’ve had a few correct guesses, so I decided to pop in and confirm that the turtles are Red-eared Sliders. That red mark along the side of the head is quite distinctive, as is their ability to ‘slide’ into the water when danger approaches.
Red-eared sliders are now a common turtle in ponds even outside their normal range, and are considered invasive. Unfortunately, this is because many have escaped or been let go as pets. They eat both plants and animals in the water, preferring still water of ponds, but also slow-moving streams and rivers. With high numbers and more rugged ability to adapt, the red-eared sliders replace shyer, native turtles and might be one of the reasons frogs are on the decline.
The warm, sunny days of spring have brought up the Eastern Painted Turtles from their hibernation in the pond mud. Even if it cools down again–like it has here in Virginia–the turtles will be okay. They have a anti-freeze-like blood that sees them through these temperature changes.
What better ‘E’ wildlife to feature on our normal ‘water’ day, Thirsty Thursday!
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!