Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Mostly Yellow Box Turtle

I helped this box turtle out of the road back in June. It is certainly one of the most colorful that I have ever seen. I have been fond of box turtles since I was a child. They never seemed aggressive and simply shut their door when something surprising happened. I always try to take them out of the road and set them in the direction they were headed in when I found them. Their behavior, like that of armadillos, is not made for coping with automobiles. Armadillos jump straight up when surprised, and this usually results in them jumping into the vehicle. However, I feel little compassion for armadillos; they just seem nasty and messy to me. Their feeding method leaves my yard  and plants in a mess, and there is that bit of information about them carrying leprosy. Box turtles also could use some instruction on avoidance of cars. Theirs is a more ostrich head in the sand approach.
Box turtles are omnivores-they eat anything, as long as they can get it into their mouths.. When young, their                tastes run more to bugs, worms, and slugs. As they grow older, they seem to favor plant material-berries and other fruits and foliage.
Box turtles grow slowly, mature slowly, and reproduce slowly. They deposit 3 to 6 eggs in a shallow unguarded nest in spring, and the eggs hopefully hatch in late summer or fall. The babies hide and feed in thick undergrowth, staying hidden for 5-7 years, before venturing out into less secretive areas.
Two bits of information that I have recently encountered assert things about box turtles that I doubt.Supposedly box turtles have a range of only 200m or 600 feet. Somehow I doubt this. The other tidbit says that a wild captured turtle when released will try to head back to its natal territory. This also seems unlikely. What I do believe is that turtles have their home territory memorized and find it difficult to find food, water, and mates in unfamiliar territory. In other words, they have to relearn the territory in order to survive. So, as much as I would like to have a box turtle for a pet, I feel unable to meet its needs. If I were somehow able to keep it healthy, it might out-live me, and then what?

1 comment:

  1. That is a stunning turtle! I believe a genetic defect is responsible for the color..it doesn't lend itself to being very camouflaged this way. About what you said about the home range I believe you are correct. I have found the same box turtle before (years apart ) but I think their range is in the miles instead of meters ..also I have heard the same thing about box turtles having a 'gps' that makes them want to find 'home' however we have successfully relocated dozens of box turts and they all just find a new place to live. Good call and that is an absolutely beautiful turtle. -Roland


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