It’s turtle time

Snapping turtle in his new habitatOne of the treats of keeping my horse at a barn that is next to a pond is that we have lots of turtles. I particularly like the painted turtles with their brightly colored undersides, but there are also plenty of snappers, too. I’ve seen a few really huge ones there — the kind that discourage you from swimming in ponds for fear of losing a toe or two.

In May, the turtles lay their eggs. They are industrious; walking very long distances (given the length of their legs) to find a safe place to dig their nests. One of the most popular places is in our pasture.

I saw the first turtle of the year when we were hunting. He was right on the path looking like a shiny rock.

Then I started seeing them in the pasture. Sometimes there are several of them hiding in the grass out in the large field and you have to ride around carefully to make sure you don’t disturb them.

Fast forward to September and the turtles have hatched; you see the tiny ones marching resolutely toward the pond on tiny little legs.

Some baby turtles, however, are misplaced or suffer from a bad sense of direction. I found thistiny explorer marching across the parking lot at the supermarket. Since there is no water anywhere nearby, it’s hard to imagine where he came from and where he thought he was going. Less than two inches in diameter, he was going to be flat before long.

I’m not a huge fan of snapping turtles, but I couldn’t leave this little one to its imminent death so I scooped him up in a drinking glass and brought it to the barn. I turned him loose by the pond. Lucky guy.

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