Chipmunk and Snapping Turtle

I had a post a few days ago about mallows: the chipmunks must have read it because I pointed out that hollyhocks and hibiscus were both mallows.  Well, I caught a chipmunk eating the hibiscus flowers for the first time although I put them out in the same place each year.

So I brought in one hibiscus to a safe place.  So the chipmunk went after the hollyhocks instead.

Chipmunk on Hollyhock
Chipmunk on Hollyhock
Chipmunk on Hollyhock
Chipmunk on Hollyhock

We also had a visit from a snapping turtle.  It’s too big to be a hatchling from this year, even though it’s almost the right time, but nowhere near adult size.  It is about 8 cm as you can see, barely able to peer over grass that was cut a couple of days ago.  Adults are up to 50 cm.  So it must have overwintered in one of my garden ponds.  It was heading towards my biggest pond with lots of lilies and fish, and I don’t want an adult living there as then it would have no lilies or fish, so I gave it a ride in a pail to a large pond nearby, which is probably where its parents came from.  That led to a serendipitous find.  I dropped it in a spot I hadn’t looked at for a while and found a large ladyslipper orchid plant.  It’s long past flowering season, so I’ll have to wait until next year to find out what colour it is.  I know orchids well enough to identify a ladyslipper just from leaves, but not to guess the colour.

Snapping Turtle 2

Juvenile Snapping Turtle
Juvenile Snapping Turtle

Another reason snapping turtles are in danger

I forgot I still had some images on my pocket camera.  Here is one of the remains of a snapping turtle nest near our house.  Some other animal didn’t read the Endangered Species Act and got all the eggs.  This was taken in late fall and I would have seen it if it had happened more than a day or two earlier.

Snapping Turtle nest destroyed
Snapping Turtle nest destroyed

Invaded by Ninja Turtles

Snapping turtles, that is, not teenage or mutant.

In spite of the ugly chicken wire fence I put around my water garden, this monster got in. I noticed a couple of snipped-off water lily leaves so I knew she was in there, so I got out the turtle net and waited quietly for her to show the tip of her nose to breathe. The “ninja” part comes from the fact that she is so stealthy in the water, for a lumbering, clumsy creature on land. Sort of like me except for the fact that I’m also hopeless in water.

Snapping turtles, that is, not teenage or mutant.

In spite of the ugly chicken wire fence I put around my water garden, this monster got in.  I noticed a couple of snipped-off water lily leaves so I knew she was in there, so I got out the turtle net and waited quietly for her to show the tip of her nose to breathe.  The “ninja” part comes from the fact that she is so stealthy in the water, for a lumbering, clumsy creature on land.  Sort of like me except for the fact that I’m also hopeless in water.

Snapping turtle in the net
Snapping turtle in the net

I know it is a female because she comes to lay eggs in our driveway and then stops off to ruin my pond on the way home (a bigger uncultivated pond next door with no juicy water lilies or brightly coloured, easy to catch goldfish, just tough weeds and fast native fish).

Here she is after I gave her a taxi ride home in the net.

Snapping turtle

Snapping turtle

Then when I got back, I found this 8 cm (3 inch) turtle on a rock by the pond.  Obviously one of last year’s hatchlings who had moved in permanently.  So it got a new home too.

Young snapping turtle
One year-old snapping turtle

This baby turtle is doomed!

Today is turtle-hatching day at our house.  I found a dozen or so scattering to the various water bodies around here, from their eggs buried under the driveway.  Doomed because turtles are declining in population so you can assume that from an average female fewer than two babies survive to reproduce (otherwise the population would grow).  So out of an average of 40 eggs per year for 40 years of reproduction, only 1 in 800 survive to have their own offspring.  Pretty bad odds I think.  Once they get to be mature, they are ornery enough to have not many enemies except cars running over them, so most are dying in the first few months and the rest in the next few years.  Wish this one luck!

Baby turtle
Baby turtle

This one strayed from cover but no raccoons, skunks, owls or other predators will attack while there is a photographer around.

Baby turtle 2
Baby turtle 2

 

These are snapping turtles.  They can’t withdraw fully into their shells, but as I said, the adults are nasty enough that nothing around here will attack them, except humans.  I have been told they are barely edible so these days not many humans will try either.
It is probably no coincidence, with fifty or so of these guys “running” for cover, that this kestrel showed up, but wouldn’t get close enough for a clear picture.

Kestrel
Kestrel on bird-house pole

 

Snapping Turtle Season

It’s that time of year again.  The snapping turtles like to lay their eggs around our house because it is sandy and well-drained, although a few like the manure pile even though by now it is too old to give off any heat.

They come from neighbouring large ponds but like to stop off for a rest in my fish pond, or should I say restaurant, because if I leave them alone, they eat all the goldfish.  So I’ve had to evict two in as many days.  I catch them in a net and cart them in a wheelbarrow to a neighbouring larger body of water where at least some of them live year round.  I’m careful because I don’t want either me or the turtle to get hurt.  Wikipedia tells me that “Snappers can stretch their necks back across their own carapace and to their hind feet on either side to bite. Also, their claws are sharp and capable of inflicting significant lacerations.”

Here is the first one in the pond (which is rather green just now, it always turns green for a couple of weeks when the weather warms up before the pond gets itself back into balance with more shade from the water lilies and more micro-organisms to eat the algae.

Snapping Turtle
Snapping Turtle

and here it is where I dropped it off.  The shell is about 30cm (1ft) long and it weighs about 5 kg (10lb) so needs a strong net.

Snapping Turtle released
Snapping Turtle released

Here is a picture from a couple of years ago of the babies hatching.  Their shells are about 3cm (1″) so they have a lot of growing to do.

Turtles hatching
Turtles hatching