On the afternoon of Sunday, May 8, our little dog found a turtle in our yard near the house.
He barked and barked, getting my attention really fast. I was sure it must be a snake, but it was a female Red-Eared Slider (Trachemys scripta elegans) a long name for a turtle…who comes up with these names?
She was really far from the pond at the rear of our property. Maybe she was laying eggs, who knows?
I promptly canceled my task of mowing the area. Now I’ll have to hope she didn’t bury her eggs somewhere where the tractor will roll over them. I will never be able to look for them in the pasture. But yes (you know me) I did look.
Normally I see these turtles on the turtle dock we made on our small pond. However, these guys are crossing the roads right now, looking for a date.
If you decide to assist that journey, put them on the side of the road that they are pointed at. Make sure to wash your hands as soon as possible after handling any reptile. Happy trails…
I went out Friday morning to see if I could get a photo of the feral cat that’s showed up at our ranch (brave thing, considering our predator density). Thus, I had my camera out and ready when I detected movement over by my tack room. It wasn’t a cat, though. At first, I thought it might be an armadillo, but as I got closer, I recognized a common snapping turtle (Chelydra serpentina) was lumbering along across the property, heading from one body of water to another.
We’ve always had snapping turtles at our ranch. For a long time there was one much bigger than this (those tend to be males), with a head as big as a pro football player’s fist. We’d usually run across it in April or May, heading somewhere across a pasture. The dogs bark at them, but horses don’t seem to mind them. I’ve never seen one snap, though my mother used to tell a story of how she narrowly avoided losing a finger once.
These turtles tend to live in shallow water, especially streams and creeks. That’s where at least one of the snapping turtles on our property was for much of this spring. I don’t know if it’s the same one. This one looks less ancient somehow.
These turtles are really cool, and I’m glad they are still around. They seem like relics of a long-ago age, to me. Here’s a fact I found that you might like:
In shallow waters, common snapping turtles may lie beneath a muddy bottom with only their heads exposed, stretching their long necks to the surface for an occasional breath. Their nostrils are positioned on the very tip of the snout, effectively functioning as snorkels.
I’ve seen them doing just that in Austin in the limestone creeks, which was fun. Whenever I saw people and their dogs frolicking along Barton Creek, I remembered how many snapping turtles I had seen there, in Lake Creek, and in Brushy Creek. They are quite common, as their name hints. Still, it’s always fun to see them out of the water, since they spend most of their time submerged and snorkeling along with those handy nostrils out, unless there’s a mating mission or something.
What Else Is New?
I’m always on the lookout for new flowers and such, and sure enough, every day seems to bring something fun and/or pretty. Who needs all those bluebonnets and paintbrushes when the other guys are just getting started? My Engelmann daisies are taking over, as usual, but I’ve been seeing some other favorites popping up, as well. Take a look!
I’ve tried my luck at posting sound files on iNaturalist, too. So far, I have a confirmed (and VERY loud) Chuck-will’s widow and dickcissels. You’d think I could get a red-winged blackbird, but there are always bunches of other birds around when they are calling. I could get other birds, but I don’t know what a lot of them are, and there’s no help identifying the sounds if you can’t see the bird.
Flowers are not the only signals that spring is here. Today (March 12) a very cold front is moving in, but yesterday, Thursday, March 11, was sunny and warm, and that brought out some frolicking squirrels and some sun-bathing Red-eared Sliders. These two were observed at lunch time at Orchard Park in Cameron. There were ten or so squirrels playing chase all over the park while the turtles lifted their heads toward the sun.
I also found an Eastern Redbud in full bloom in my neighbor’s yard. I also have Henbit Deadnettle growing in large blooming clumps in my yard, but so does everyone else, it seems.
I hope spring is here to stay after this cold front.
If you have ever tried to photograph our common pond turtle the, Red-eared Slider, you know how hard it is. The minute they see you, hear you, or even get a vibration, they jump into the water. So you never really get a good look at them up close.
It took days for me to sneak up on these guys down at our pond.
I also think my local crows call out to them that I am coming..
Red-eared sliders like muddy bottoms and slow moving water. These are the turtles that pet stores used to sell a lot of, which is not a happy thing for the turtle. They are wild and need to be out somewhere in a pond, in my opinion.
I built a turtle dock a few years ago for them to bask on. Rotten trees tend to eventually go down into the pond, filling it up with debris. As long as they can climb up onto the dock they are happy.
Hi. I know we haven’t posted much. Blame the blogmaster, Suna, who has been doing a huge work project and hasn’t had extra energy. However, over this weekend you’ll hear from more of our chapter!
I (Suna) just wanted to quickly share what I found on my walk today, where I was checking out flooding. I saw what looked like trash on the roadside in front of my ranch, on County Road 140. I looked closer, and I realized it was eggshells!
They were not hard. They were rubbery and soft. Judging from the nest, I figure they were turtle eggs. That made me happy, because I’d never seen a nest in my nine years of exploring this area.
I’m not 100% sure what it is. Maybe snakes? But it appears the rain encouraged a lot of them to head on out. I found a second nest with shells.
Now, maybe a skunk or raccoon found them and had a snack, but I didn’t see any carcasses. I did see what appear to be another couple of nests in the area, so my plants is to go back and check them in a couple of weeks.
I’ve seen a lot of turtles in the road lately. Maybe they were laying. I think we have red eared sliders and pond sliders, both native, though the red eared ones are considered invasive.