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.
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?
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