Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Roadkill? Not This Time Turtle

The very first turtle I saved was a Common snapping turtle.

Last Friday, we walked to the McKenzie Marsh. It was late in the afternoon, but still sunny and bright. When we got closer to the boardwalk, we spotted a turtle heading for the road. This is the second time I have seen a turtle trying to cross the road, on St. John’s Sideroad.

It was a Red-eared slider. There are many of them in our pond, and sometimes when you look over the railing down at the tree roots, you can see a line of them basking in the sun.

Red-eared slider, McKenzie Marsh, Town of Aurora

Well, I wasn’t ready to see a casualty that night, so I picked him up and carried him back to the pond. If he was on a mission, his mission ended back home. ‘Too bad turtle, maybe you hate your parents or your pond, but I tell you it is better than being roadkill’. The very first turtle I saved was a Common snapping turtle.

Since I used to have a Red-eared slider turtle as a pet, I thought I’d save you a trip to the wiki and list a few interesting facts about him.

Facts About Red-Eared Slider Turtle

A meaningful name. Red-eared sliders get their name from the distinctive red mark around their ears. The “slider” part of their name comes from their ability to slide off rocks and logs and into the water quickly.

Aha. Contrary to the popular misconception, red-eared sliders do not have saliva. They, like most aquatic turtles, have fixed tongues, so they must eat their food in water.

Something I did not know. Reptiles do not hibernate, but actually brumate, becoming less active, but occasionally rising for food or water. Brumation can occur in varying degrees. Red-eared sliders brumate over the winter at the bottom of ponds or shallow lakes; they become inactive, generally, in October, when temperatures fall below 10°C (50°F).

So that is why he always moved around. Red-eared sliders kept captive indoors should not brumate.

Nature is wonderful. A new hatchling turtles breaks open its eggs with its egg-tooth, which falls out about an hour after hatching. This egg tooth never grows back.

A pet. The Red-eared slider, often sold cheaply, is the most common type of water turtle kept as pets. As with other turtles, tortoises and box turtles, individuals that survive their first year or two can be expected to live almost as long as their owners. Individuals of this species have lived at least 35 years in captivity.

We used to have a turtle as a pet, as I mentioned before. I remember how we lost him for a few days in the yard. He wandered away, and we thought we would never see him again. Three days later, my mother heard children yelling, “Look, a turtle, a turtle!” With excitement on her face (a moment stuck in my memory forever), she ran out, grabbed him, and said, “He is ours.”

On a side note, if you decide to lean over to look for basking turtles on your next trip to the pond, you may want to be cautious. There are many Canada geese nesting very close to the boardwalk. The male is very protective and will hiss if you get too close. They like to stand on the railing.

Hissing Canada goose, McKenzie Marsh, Town of Aurora

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