Monday, August 10, 2015
Rescuing turtles from the middle of a road is a regular occurrence for me. Box turtles are the most frequent species in need of being removed from a road. Occasionally I also find a snapping turtle, which I can usually urge off the road by getting it to snap at something like a stick and leading it, snapping all the way, to the edge of the road.
This weekend I added a third species to my rescue, except that I’m not entire sure what it is. I first thought it was an eastern painted turtle but when I saw the red stripe above the eye, doesn’t that make it a red-eared slider? Except that the plastron, or bottom, of the shell is yellow like the painted turtle and this turtle was a total sweetie, which is not the reputation for the red-eared slider. But the shell is more domed, like a slider, than is typical for the painted turtle. So, can I hedge my bets and call this one an interbreed? (That does occur, so such a thing is not a fancy of my indecision)
This particular turtle was found near Pinchot State Park, which is appropriate in two ways. The first is that these common turtles are commonly found at Pinchot, so finding one near there was not a surprise, though this one was headed in the opposite direction from the lake. The second reason is that tomorrow marks the 150th birthday of Gifford Pinchot, a Pennsylvania native and the first chief of the U.S. Forest Service. He was also one of our state’s governors and a close friend of another ardent conservationist, President Theodore Roosevelt. But getting back to this turtle...
My Sunday morning rescue was large and old. It was likely a female, as they are about an inch larger than the males. This one was easily 8 inches long, putting it near the upper end of both species’ size. Its turtle growth rings on its carapace were worn to the point where I couldn’t count them to guess how old it might have been. This turtle seemed in fine health, despite an old injury that resulted in the loss of at least one of its rear toes.
Said turtle hid from me most of the time and only deigned to show off her pretty red “ear” stripe after I’d released her for a few moments. I hope this one has many more years ahead of it—whatever her exact species.