Saturday, December 6, 2008

A Story of a Turtle

I was at my parents' house at the end of October when I got a call from Adam, on the road for business. "I have a turtle in my car," he says. Knowing that I have my husband well educated in the plight of the box turtle to survive the human race, I immediately asked what was wrong with the turtle. He informed me that he had stopped to move the turtle across the road (oh, how I love my husband), but when he picked it up he noticed blood.
He (and what a big, beautiful HE he was - feast your eyes on that super vibrant orange!) didn't seem to be injured badly, but with cold weather approaching and getting details over the phone, we decided it best for the turtle to come home with Adam, an hour and a half from his home, to get assessed properly. I have my connections, and if he were in need of some rehab he would go to my wonderful, dear friend Julie Zickefoose, or my equally wonderful, dear college professor Dave McShaffrey for help. When I got home, I assessed his injuries to find that he had been nicked by a tire on the front of his shell, which caused a break between the gular scutes on the plastron, or bottom of the shell. He had a nice fat tail, which is a good thing for turtles, bright eyes, and was making it very clear that he wanted to be digging in the ground for the winter! I cleaned him up and called Julie to ask if he could make his home on her property. Should we hibernate him? Dig him in? Take him back? We talked it over and arranged a time for him to go to her. We took a second to take some good pictures of him, then packed him up for the trip to meet Julie.
Max is my animal baby, and was completely enthralled with this thing in the box. Yeah, Turtle! Mama, I want to chew on the turtle! Can I, please?!
Julie contacted a turtle rehab expert that she knows to get specific instructions on digging him in for winter. That is where our plans for Mr. Turtle got a little crazy. The rehab expert made it very clear to us that he really needed to go back to where he was found. You see, turtles are very dependent on their home habitat site, and if he were to dig himself out on a warm day in mid-November, he would have no idea where he was and would most likely die not being able to find his normal hibernarium spots. So, back to our house Mr. Turtle came, and one fine Sunday we made the hour and a half trip BACK to his point of "rescue." Eih, this turtle was SO ready to go home. It was due to be a warmer night, and it was very clear that he was NOT going to stay in if I dug his hibernarium for him, so we placed him on the hillside in the direction he was heading when Adam found him and said our good-byes. And he scrambled away as fast as he could move. Fairwell, beautiful Papa Turtle. Go forth, heal, hibernate and live another year. And PLEASE wake up next spring ready to find yourself a Mama Turtle to make some babies with, because we need more of you in this world!

And to all reading this, the next time you pass that turtle on the highway, PLEASE consider stopping and offering him safe passage across the road, and NEVER stick him in the car and bring him home. Leave him in his home, where he belongs, so he can make baby turtles and our next generation can know what a box turtle is by seeing one somewhere other than on the pages of a book.

1 comment:

gardenmama said...

I can't get over the beauty of this guy! I wish I had seen him in person, uh, turtle, uh, you know what I mean. Even though he is gorgeous in pictures, I'm sure they don't do him the justice that his brilliant orange deserves.