Turtles, Turtles, Turtles

Over the past three weeks I’ve come across 13 juvenile Yellow-bellied Turtles. I’ve either spotted them myself at known nest sites or Museum guests and staff have spied them, and in some cases, brought them to me after finding the little herps wandering around the campus.

A curious crowd gathers around a young slider headed for the Wetlands.
A curious crowd gathers around a young slider headed for the Wetlands.

Who knows how many of the turtles have gone unseen while making their way to the Wetlands here at the Museum. How many of the turtles wander off in the wrong direction, away from water and end up on a neighborhood street. How many of them get preyed upon by snakes, fox, and birds. Even if they make it to the Wetlands, they’re suseptable to predation by water snakes, herons, and snapping turtles.

Some of the turtles don't make the trek to the water.
Some of the turtles don’t make the trek to the water.
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Less than two feet from the water, will this turtle make it?

On the bright side, I personnally know of at least twelve of the tiny turtle that have made it to the Wetlands. They were either released by me or someone else here at the Museum. I’ve already seen some of them out basking. While there’s no way of knowing whether the ones that I’ve seen are in fact turtles that I, we, have released, I’d like to think they are. Or, if not, it’s good to see that some of them have indeed made it to the water on their own.

One of the happy sliders who successfully made the journey to the Wetlands.
One of the happy sliders who successfully made the journey to the Wetlands.
A final photo before being released into the Wetlands.
A quick photo before being released into the Wetlands.
MusEUm VuloNteer Jake releasing a slider.
Museum Volunteer Jake releasing a slider. 

That reminds me, it’s May, any day now the adult turtles of our Wetlands will be up and out of the water digging nests, laying eggs, making more tiny turtles for us to watch for later this fall and next spring!

3 responses to Turtles, Turtles, Turtles

  1. Avatar
    sherry says:

    at what age (or size) do you start “counting” and “marking” the turtles?
    It would be really interesting to mark these young ones and see how many we still find years’ down the road.

    • Greg Dodge
      Greg Dodge says:

      It would indeed be interesting to mark the younger turtles, the thought has crossed my mind. But, their shells are still soft when first out of the nest and since I use a file to mark the marginal scutes I don’t want to risk damaging them in any way. As it is now I only mark the ones that I encounter walking along the trails here at the Museum. They’re usually females who are up to lay eggs. So far, they’ve all been between about 9 – 11+ inches (the sliders, musk and painted turtles obviously much smaller). If I encounter smaller individuals (sliders) I’ll mark them, but it seems as though I’ll only encounter sexually mature females, who, if the trend continues, will be in the 9 – 11 inch range (I measure from front of carapace to rear of carapace, curved measurement).

      • Greg Dodge
        Greg Dodge says:

        Over the past weekend I saw several more nestlings, or should I call them fledglings, heading towards the water, so keep your eyes open, they’re still popping up. A good number of the turtles have been seen in the vicinity of Into the Mist.

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