Monday, June 19, 2006

Turtle Rain

Monday, June 19, 2006

Every June, when we get our first really rainy day, the box turtles get on the move. Males are looking for females. Females are looking for males and for places to dig their nests.

As I lay awake last night, listening to the rain spattering onto the hosta leaves outside my bedroom window, I knew I'd be seeing turtles on the way into work in the morning. And sure enough, I was right.

I saw five box turtles total and saved four of them. One met the fate that so many of these slow, gentle creatures meet each June--smashed by the tires of a passing vehicle. I won't share that image with you.

Here are two of the turtles I saved, one (the yellow one) a female, the other, a dark, old male. Box turtles can live a very long time and these two might even predate the asphalt-covered county road I was on today. I imagine how, for an old survivor, crossing a busy highway or even a well-traveled country road, is like playing Russian roulette. Sooner or later their luck is going to run out.
This bright yellow female box turtle was heavy with eggs.

A bottom view of the dark male I saved. Males have a concave portion of their undersides to facilitate a better fit for mating with females.

I try to stop to help each turtle that I see. Sometimes I'm too late. Sometimes, while I'm waiting for traffic to pass, I have to sit and watch in anguish as the turtle gets hit. And yet, when I help them safely on their way, it gives me a a small measure of satisfaction for a deed well done.

It felt good to help four turtles across the road today.

I think I needed it as much as they did.


On June 19, 2006 at 2:56 PM MojoMan said...

Actually watching a box turtle get smashed as I was trying to save it would be almost too much to bear.

Aside from the concave bottom on the males, are there other cluses to gender? Eye color?

On June 19, 2006 at 3:49 PM akogge said...

Add 3 more turtles to the "saved" list for today! Along our bike ride this morning, Scott and I stopped 3 different times for a turtle. One poor guy was lying on his back, but he was ok when we put him in the grass near the water.

On June 19, 2006 at 4:25 PM Bill of the Birds said...

Hey Annie! Always so nice to "see" you here. Thanks for helping the turtles, too! Sending a hug your way.--BT3

It's something that's happened to me 3 times and each time is more horrible than tha last.

On June 19, 2006 at 8:39 PM Susan Gets Native said...

I thought I had a chance to help one of the little guys yesterday. He or she was pointing in a non-specific direction, so I turned around. But by the time I got back it had vanished, so I guess I saw it just as it had crossed. Whew!

On June 19, 2006 at 9:39 PM robin andrea said...

I don't know if you've ever read Burning Silo, but she also had a post up over the weekend about rescuing turtles in Ontario. I hope you are all rewarded for your good deeds. The protection of the littlest among us is the finest work of all.

On June 20, 2006 at 9:07 PM KatDoc said...

Thank you for saving the turtles. I try to stop whenever I can (without getting crushed myself) to move a turtle off the road. I finally learned to move them to the side they were going TOWARD; I used to just put them on the closest side. Who knows how many turtles have cursed me in the past for moving them backwards?

I save box turtles primarily. I gave up on helping snapping turtles when one nearly took my finger off - ungrateful creature! I stopped on a busy 4 lane city street once for a box turtle, but by the time I worked my way back, he had been hit (read: smashed) It was pretty awful.

I know how to sex box turtles, but how could you tell the female was full of eggs?


On June 27, 2006 at 9:13 AM Rondeau Ric said...

A naturalist should us how it's done. You gentle insert a finger along the front edge of the rear leg. Gentle probe and if there are eggs you will feel them.

On June 12, 2008 at 12:58 PM Eastcoastdweller said...

We form a quiet society, we turtle savers.

I don't understand the clueless idiots who run them over. It's not a deer or a squirrel, which dash wildly from the side of the road across traffic and are therefore sometimes unavoidable.

How hard is it to avoid hitting a turtle if you are not driving asleep or intoxicated? I guarantee those same morons would be a little more hesitant to hit and vigilant to avoid, if it were a glass bottle or a knee-deep pothole in their path.

On June 19, 2008 at 10:26 AM Anonymous said...

I stumbled across this post today because on my way to work today, i saw a box turtle crossing a county road I pulled over and got out of the car to help carry it across to the other side. Every car was avoiding it it got to the middle of the lane where i figured it would be safe until i got to it. I was about 40 feet away when a guy purposely swerved to the side and crushes it. I just stared at the man in the blue suv as he drove by. Seriously people have issues.

On October 5, 2011 at 7:28 PM Anonymous said...

My boyfriend called me this evening, he saved a turtle that was about to get hit. Problem is, he's dead set on bringing him home to become a pet. I tried telling him it would be much happier in its natural habitat, but he seems to be convinced we should keep it. I even suggested that we write our initials on its back with nail polish like my dad and I did when I was a kid. (If we ever see it again, we'd know it was him). This doesnt hurt the turtle in any way, right? Can you please give me some advice on explaining to him how much happier it would be in the wild?