Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Coming Out Of Their Shells

We have 3 species of turtle that visit the yard more or less often.

We have lots and lots of Painted Turtles  (Chrysemys picta).

The pond is full of them and  they regularly come up into the garden to lay eggs as we photographed last year  

Then every couple of years we will be visited by a Common Snapping Turtle (Chelydra serpentina) wandering through the neighbourhood  looking, again, for somewhere to lay her eggs.  Big and well armoured but surprisingly quick Snappers are best not messed with. They most certainly will snap if harrassed.

This one was in the drive. Godzilla meets Gamera!

But only once before had we found our other species the Eastern Box Turtle (Terrapene carolina carolina). My first summer here I found one in the yard in the wet grass after a rainstorm. And then on Monday as I went into the garden to cut iris for Mrs.B. to take to the office what should I find tucked away hard by the fence at the back of the iris bed but Box Turtle number two.

I'm no in the habit of handling the beasties I find in the yard unless its to move a caterpillar to a less decimated food plant or to snip away a few leaves to make for a better shot. But Mrs.B. insisted that I bring this one from the flower bed to the deck so Jr. could get a good look before he headed out for school. So I grabbed a few closer shots too between folks trying to feed him/her/it lettuce.

Didnt seem so interested in that but then it appears that Box Turtles are pretty much omnivorous and that the food in the iris bed was as likely worms and beetles as it was dandelions.

It is the State reptile of our neighbour North Carolina. 

"The turtle watches undisturbed as countless generations of faster 'hares' run by to quick oblivion, and is thus a model of patience for mankind, and a symbol of our State’s unrelenting pursuit of great and lofty goals."
So sayeth the North Carolina Secretary of State and hurrah say I.
Meanwhile the Virginia legislature failed to adopt it as our own  on two occassions the last being in 2009 when it met Republican opposition apparently on the basis of its being cowardly on account of its hiding in its shell.
 I kid you not.

The Box Turtle was back again on Wednesday morning close by the house. Maybe its going to be a garden resident. We shall see.

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