Sunday, May 17, 2009

Oh Snap

This is either a very late entry for last week's Nature Notes, or a very early entry for next time.

We had our first cookout here last evening, introducing old friends to the new house. Once the guests had gone and the dishes were done, the hubby made an offhand announcement: "I got a turtle capture for you today."

Ah! Great! I grabbed my camera and hit the display. No turtle pics. "Where are they?"

"Out in the henhouse." Say what? "I found a big turtle on the driveway and I kept it for you. Ugly critter, but I figured you'd want to take a picture of it. I've never seen one like it."

What he was trying to tell me was that he had caught an actual turtle and was holding it captive in the chicken coop. (I thought it was funny that he knew the word "capture" for a photo.) And from his description of it, I was pretty sure it was a snapping turtle.

The curiosity was killing me, but I wasn't about to go out in the dark to confront a ticked-off snapper of unknown size. It would just have to chill until morning.

The former homeowner and our new neighbors had both warned us about these turtles. They spend most of the year submerged in shallow water, coming out in spring to mate, lay eggs, and stake out new territory. They look like a gray rock when they're not cruising around, and if you get too close they'll strike like a snake. Their necks are surprisingly long, and the bites can be pretty serious, as in biting a chunk out of you or breaking your finger.

Click the video to see this one in action.

Snap! from My Maracas on Vimeo.

Winkie here is being relocated to the south swamp, away from the pond. We're considering releasing some fish in the pond, and snappers would make short work of them. Big turtles can take fish, other turtles, snakes, ducklings, and goslings. They do eat pond weeds and duck grass, though, so it isn't all bad to have them.

One neighbor told me they hunt in their swamps for snappers, digging them out with pitchforks. They put the turtles in a horse trough for a few days to flush their systems with clean water, and then cook and eat them.

I dunno. Does this guy look yummy to you?

Click Here for more Nature Notes.


JC said...

Oh, lol... I was going to agree he's ugly, but look at that smile! Never had turtle, probably never will, which is ok by me... tastes like chicken I've heard.

Sallyacious said...

That turtle has a loooooong neck. I know you said it did in the description, but still, I was expecting something much shorter than that. Not what you could call pretty at all, but maybe to another turtle?

Anonymous said...

Yeah...I have done battle with the darn things here in the pond...I called the DEC and asked about them.They are protected. If you relocate them, they will come back. Males roam to find females and females only leave the ponds to lay eggs. Most of what they eat is vegetation and carrion, but they will take ducklings, goslings and anything else they can grab. They are shy in the water, but will snap when on land. People who eat them are taking a chance as they are long lived like in 50 years and accumulate a lot of toxins in their meat so they are not good to eat. If you do decide to release fish, the snapper won't take a toll, but consider releasing native fish only as we have a problem here with non-native fish being released into these ponds...Great Nature Notes post... Michelle

MyMaracas said...

JC, he does look jolly in that first photo, doesn't he? Winking and grinning. Looks can be so deceiving.

Sally, I was surprised too. It really is nasty looking. The rest of it is very like a dinosaur.

Michelle, it's good to know the fish would be OK, as I'm pretty sure there must be snappers in the pond. We were thinking goldfish, for the mosquitos and for the interest they provide, but I'll check to see if there are native fish that would survive. I wouldn't have thought of the toxin thing, but it makes sense. Not that I was planning to eat this thing. LOL

Char said...

UGH! That is one ugly dude. I don't know how starved I would have to get before I resorted to eating that thing!

moosh said...

i once kept a desert tortise in the house as a pet. We had stone floors so he was not a problem. He liked to eat the cat food but fed him lettuce and other produce. I don't think I would like this guy as pet.

MyMaracas said...

Char, I agree. But everyone around here claims either to love turtle meat or to have friends or family who do. To each his own, I guess.

Moosh, we had a box turtle in a fenced flower garden as a kid. We fed it lettuce and worms. Somehow, it managed to escape, which I suppose is for the best. Myrtle. Myrtle the Turtle, she was. LOL

Nicole said...

Look at that round happy innocent looking face ;)
What a story.
You have snapping turtles, hubby has jumping Cactus (whatever the plural is), and I have killer mosquitoes ;)
A happy natural world :P
Eating them...dunno.....I prob. would try a bite :)

MyMaracas said...

Nicole, you're a braver diner than I. LOL I'll be by to check out that jumping cactus.

Unseen Rajasthan said...

What A Stunning Photograph..I Really love And Appreciate Your Blog..Keep Up The Gud Work..