It’s been a solid month of stitching turtles. There are too many damn turtles and TurtleFest is coming up. There have been requests from colleagues that I work on some arthropods after I am over the turtles. Too many damn entomologists. Oooooo….maybe one of those cockroaches from the carboniferous that grew to be 8 inches long…
Anyway, back to the turtles. Chelydra serpentina, the common snapping turtle, is common around here. We’ve found one wandering about on the driveway. It didn’t snap, but did give me a definite good look over when I poked its tail. Understandable. We probably have quite a few in our pond, even though I’ve only ever seen the one. Snappers are extremely aquatic, mostly nestling into pond and lake mud, hoping for lunch to conveniently swim into their mouths. Once something tasty gets close enough, they snap down on it, gaining a nice piece or fish or possibly a toe if you step in the wrong place. Their beaks are VERY strong. So don’t step on them.
And here’s my fact list:
1. They get up to 18 inches long and 60 pounds. A good sized beastie.
2. They are usually covered in algae, so look green and slimy.
3. Underneath the slime they are brownish and lumpy. They have three keels (raised ridges that run down the back) that mostly get rubbed off as adults. But the keels are mostly hidden by pond slime.
4. Tails are long, muscular and spiky.
5. They can do the musk thing. They can produce a foul smelling secretion from their tails and smear it on you.
6. They are omnivores. Adults prefer veggies, juveniles prefer meat (including bugs). All of them eat carrion.
7. They are on the move (land wise) about now, looking for mates and nesting spots, after coming out of hibernation last month. This varies in other localities, based on temperature.
8. They can live to about 50.
“Snapping Turtle” Encyclopedia of life, available from http://eol.org/pages/795409/overview. Accessed April 21, 2014.
W. Palmer and A. Braswell, Reptiles of North Carolina. 1995. University of North Carolina Press.