Thursday, September 24, 2015

Fun with snapping turtle

Snapping turtle in the middle of the road

Hawkwatching wasn’t the only thing I did on my vacation last week.  I “rescued” a huge snapping turtle, the largest one I’ve seen in years. Of course, the turtle did not appreciate my attempts to save it from its own folly, but I don’t expect thanks from snapping turtles.

Here’s how it happened. I was driving home a few miles from the cabin not long before dark.  I was on one of those lightly traveled rural roads typical of my area—a few houses, a few fields and medium-sized patches of forest.  I come around a curve and see a large blob in the middle of the road and soon see it’s a huge snapping turtle, stopped halfway across the road, straddling the double yellow line.

In another few minutes it would be dark and even an aware driver could mistake it for something else, let alone the distracted driver, chatting on a cell phone or thinking about dinner.  So I stopped my car, turned on the flashers and went to investigate. Yep, it’s a big one with a mouth that opened to be the something you could drop an espresso cup into. My appearance didn’t encourage it to move.  At all.

A car approaches and I wave at it to slow down, point at the turtle and get it to go around.  A second car does the same thing, this one containing a young woman who asks what it is.  And then a third car where the occupant agrees that it’s a large turtle. The turtle still hasn’t moved in any meaningful way.
Almost across!
 I return to my car, extract my 5’ long hiking staff and approach cautiously.  I push gently at the turtle with the end of the staff. Naturally it snaps, opening that mouth that’s a good couple inches across. However, the snapping action does move it several inches off the double yellow line.  So I repeat my push, get the same unhappy snapping response, and the turtle is moved another few inches toward the side of the road.  I repeat until the turtle is off the side of the road and in the grass on its shoulder. I tried to get it further off the road and off the shoulder but it was having none of it.   At this point it refused to snap or move any more, and I decided that would have to be good enough.

Apparently it was, as when I returned to the road the next morning, I did not find a flattened turtle. I can only hope it learned its lesson and decides not to cross the road again.


Scott said...

You're a Good Samaritan, Carolyn! Thank goodness for the walking stick (though I suppose you could have used any old stick in the woods and accomplished the same thing). For some reason, I particularly like that last image--very evocative.

Pablo said...

"Fun" and "snapping turtle" are not words I expect to find in the same sentence.