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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

ON THE ROAD AGAIN -- PAINTED TURTLES??

SMALL TURTLE
OK.  I give up. I am not an expert on turtles and therefore can not truly identify the two turtles on this post. I believe they are painted turtles but not completely sure. 

I met up with them on the road. I almost hit the smaller of the two as it was attempting to crawl across a fairly busy road. The larger one was poised to follow the smaller one across the road.  Their destination unknown to me. But, I sure didn't want them to get hit by cars whizzing along at about fifty miles an hour. 



LARGE TURTLE WITH HEAD LOOKING AROUND

I stopped my truck on the side of the road and walked to the middle of the highway and picked up the small one, about six inches long,  and carried it to the field near the road. Then I went back and picked up the larger one, about ten to twelve inches long and put him next to the small one that now resided in the field. I felt they were buddies of some sort and probably frightened by my handling --  being together might calm them? 



SMALL AND LARGE TURTLES AFTER RESCUE

I just happened to have my camera with me strapped in a case around my shoulder. I whipped out my camera and started taking a few shots. The larger one started to crawl away from the highway much to my relief. In reality he might have been trying to get away from me? 

The photos didn't turn out that well but perhaps someone out there can ID them for me?



SMALL TURTLE


I do know a few general facts about turtles. One, is that they are in trouble because of habitat loss. Two, that crossing roads results in road kills which then results in large declines in local turtle populations. If one scrolls down to the end of this post there is more infomation on turtle decline.

One issue bothers me. Why so people take native turtle species and turn them into pets. As pets their life span is short. Once captive they will always need to be captive as  returning them to the wild spreads disease leading to turtle deaths. Even if you think your pet turtle is healthy there is a good chance they will spread a disease to the native population if released. 


UNDERSIDE OF SMALL TURTLE
The two turtles were fairly similar in identification marks. The one difference was the head of the large turtle was dark with barely visable streaks while the smaller one has green and creamy colors. Perhaps the difference could be age -- something like losing the vibrant color as one ages? I read someplace that painted turtles live to about fifty years old in the wild. 

So if you want to save a turtle's life you can do one imporatnt simple thing. Remove it from the road if you spot one crossing (if it's a snapping turtle push it gently with your foot -- don't pick it up). Carry it to the side where it was headed. Mother nature will love you for this little action. 

INFORMATION SOURCES



18 comments:

  1. Lovely pics, they're cute! So great you saved those turtles! Poor things, what chance do they have with big cars facing them?

    I don't know what kind these fellows are, but we get red-eared sliders in the shelter where I volunteer fairly often, and you're right, they should not be kept as pets, people should just leave them in in their natural habitat. Actually, the sliders we get in are not even native to these parts, but turtles that people took out of their natural habitats to sell as pets around the country. Sheesh!

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  2. They sure look like painted turtles to me! I haven't seen one in years!!!

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  3. Rose -- Yes the red sliders are not native. The sad part about them is that they are infringing on the natural habitat of our native turtles and adding to the decline of natives. I'm glad to hear you feel that the turtles should not become pets. Thanks for your comment -- barbara

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  4. Kay -- I'll take that as a yes they are painted turtles until proven otherwise. I searched the internet and could find only vague photos of painted turtles. Thanks for the comment -- barbara

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  5. I took photos of one turtle yesterday too. Box type turtles is what I saw. From your photos they look like mud turtles or soft shell turtles. With everything flooded here in Kentucky now they may be forced to move. The ones I observed were digging in the fields. To lay eggs I believe. I had to leave them alone as the dogs wanted to pick them up.

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  6. I love turtles, I think they are so cute. We always stop and move turtles out of the road, too.

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  7. Janet -- You are true turtles lovers. There is something about turtles that makes you want help them. Maybe it is because they move so slowly across the road. But we do know that turtles ctossing roads do need help. -- bafbara

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  8. Grampy -- Oh I think box turtles are so beautiful. They seem to like my property as I always find one or two around. My dogs also like to try and pick them up. Also I have to walk the property before it is mowed as I am afraid they might get in the way of a mower. Hope you put on your photo of the turtle you encountered. -- barbara

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  9. Barbara, they do look like painted turtles, because of the flatten look of their shells in your photo.

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  10. A nice post on turtles, Barbara. I'm glad you were able to give these two a hand. Here in Ontario, 6 of 8 native species are threatened.
    The painted turtles I see around here generally have a red pattern around the outer edge of the carapace, which I don't see on your guys. There is quite good ID info at the Adopt-a-Pond Turtle Tally page here: http://www.torontozoo.com/adoptapond/Turtles.asp?tr=7

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  11. I've moved many a box turtle from the road.

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  12. I love turtles and I haven't seen any up close and personal in years except the one in the vet's office. I would call these box tortoises. I think the turtles are marine animals. UMD has some fellows that like to bask in the sun near a little pond on campus. I suppose you have heard of the UMD Terrapins?

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  13. They're amazing creatures, aren't they. One paid me a little visit at Willow Manor a few years ago.

    http://willowmanor.blogspot.com/2009/07/my-afternoon-tea.html

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  14. Mama-Bug, I do believe you are right. It does have a flatish top shell. I know it is not a box as a box can close their top and bottom shell like a locked box -- they are the only turtles that can do this -- at least that is what I have read. These two turtles could not close their top and bottom shells together like a locked box. thanks for the comment -- barbara

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  15. Tess -- they are amazing when you consider they have survived for thousands of years under all types of adversity. -- thanks -- barbara

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  16. Dianne -- you got me on that one. I looked up UMD Terrapins online and up popped football and basketball teams at the University of Maryland. University of Maryland Diamondbacks (UMD). Thanks -- barbara

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  17. Vicki -- way out in the country where you live I imagine you have had the opportunity to move many turtles off the road Great! -- barbara

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  18. Sheri -- thanks for the link. I started with your link, went off to a few others, such as the University of Michigan link, and then bounced around some more and ended up at Wikipedia Painted turtle site. I learned a lot by all this bouncing around. One thing -- Wiki did give a great description of painted turtles. They listed three sub-species. I am somewhat sure one is the species of the two on my post -- I would say that the two turtles are a sub-species called eastern painted turtle. They can have red or yellow markings. And, they can have slightly spotted yellow bottom plate -- of which the two have.

    I found that one has to piece the whole ID thing together online in order to identify turtles. I am sure there is a wonderful book out there somewhere that would help folks trying to ID turtles.

    Thanks for the link that got me going in the right direction -- barbara

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