Into the Outdoors - Turtles


For starters, I am going to let you know about the “mystery guest” at my bird feeder. It was, indeed, a rat. That’s right, a rat. The feeder is over six feet above the ground, but he climbed right up and helped himself to the sunflower seeds. In fact, he showed up for several days. Then, he disappeared. I suspect that my big old outside cat, Syracuse, had something to do with the disappearance. The rat didn’t really concern me all that much. Had he gotten into the house, my little cat, Maggie, would have taken care of him in a jiffy, and enjoyed herself in the process.

Last week, I also made mention of turtles. After doing some homework, I learned that some of the things I once thought about these little critters were totally wrong. For example, I always believed that you could take a turtle home, keep it as a pet for a little while, let it go, and it would be fine. Studies have shown, however, that this is not the case. Released in an unfamiliar place, they live a life of total confusion, and sometimes die. I suppose you could release them in the exact place where you found them, and that might help. I guess that the best thing would be to just look at them and leave them alone.

Here’s another turtle related problem. That is invasive species. Humans are the real problem. Someone will go to a pet store and buy a turtle, usually a red-eared slider, for a pet. Ultimately, they get tired of it, so they release it into a river, stream or lake. These turtles are quite capable of surviving on their own. They reproduce, and can do significant damage to the ecosystem into which they are introduced. Introducing non-native species into an environment is pretty much always a bad idea.

If you see a turtle on the highway, there is a pretty good chance that it is going to be killed. I have often stopped and moved them to the roadside. It is important to place them in the direction they were heading. Otherwise, they may very well wander back onto the road, and your efforts to help them will be in vain.

Snapping turtles are sort of in a class by themselves. While usually quite docile in the water, they can be downright mean on land. They will bite you. I have heard stories that they can bite a broom handle in two, but that is something I would have to see to believe. They are supposedly delicious eating. At Wholey’s, the meat sells for close to twenty dollars per pound. The meat might be good, but, to me, at least, it can’t be that good. As for catching my own, I have neither the heart to kill one nor the stomach to clean it. I guess I won’t be eating turtle anytime soon.

In Minnesota, snapping turtles are used as “cadaver dogs.” A GPS is attached to the turtle and it is released into the water. If it comes upon a corpse, it will stop to feed, and the searchers can home in on it.

On a lighter note, as I was sitting on my deck, I noticed a female cardinal on my son’s Jeep. She landed on each side mirror and pecked on it. Then, she moved to the windshield. I have heard before of cardinals doing this. She was at it for at least an hour. Her babies must have been getting pretty hungry.

nd finally, don’t forget to get your new hunting license and antlerless license application. Even if you have a Senior license, you must renew it.

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