Eastern-Eastern Box-Box Turtle-Turtle

I know I have not been posting much, but I have a good reason. It’s because I have not been GARDENING much.   I kid you not that it has rained heavily almost every day since I last bitched about the fact that it was raining heavily every day. It was a most disconcerting drive from Cleveland to my parents’ house this weekend where I did not pass a single field that had even been plowed yet — and there are A LOT of fields between here and there. This will be tough year for Ohio farmers, that is for sure.

But, even though I did not do much gardening this weekend because I was out of town, we did find an interesting visitor in the middle of the road near our home.  Yes, I said middle of the road. We found an Eastern Box Turtle sunning itself on the yellow line of a busy road. Apparently turtles and toddlers have the same level of desire when it comes to attempting to end their lives through potentially unsafe activities.  Â  Due to the turtle’s obvious suicidal tendencies, it was brought back to our house for a 72 hours observation period and when it is found to no longer be a danger to itself or others, it will be released back into the wild.   In the meantime, she is serving as a small summer educational project for my kids.

The first thing they learned is that box turtles should not be permanently removed from the wild and when returned, they should be returned to the place they were removed from (though probably not the middle of the road). It turns out box turtles have little biological homing beacons that make it so they will try to get back home again.   So, if we don’t return her to where she lives, what we may accomplish is finding out exactly what happens when the old joke “why did the turtle cross the road?” gets interrupted by vehicular turtleslaughter  as she tries to cross the roads that stand between here and where we found her (though given this turtle’s propensity to find roads to be good sun beds, this could happen anyway).

Next, box turtles are omnivores. I kind of wish that we could convince her to stay here because of this.   They love to eat slugs and bugs and other baddies in the garden (though they like to eat earthworms too, but we all can’t be perfect). They will also eat fruit and veggies if they can find them.

And, I keep calling her SHE. How do I know that? Because she does not have red eyes. Male Eastern Box Turtles mostly have red eyes.

So, our little house guest will stay a day or so and then we will free her, but in the meantime, it was interesting to find out a little more about her.

4 thoughts on “Eastern-Eastern Box-Box Turtle-Turtle
  1. LOVE box turtles! a few days ago, i found a girl trying to cross a busy (posted 55 mph = 70 mph on a good day) two-lane street and i turned around and picked her up and walked her across the street and let her go in the tree-lawn (not what they call them down here in NC, but the equivilant) and then she just booked it towards the woods and nearby ditches. i felt good, but wished i had remembered my camera, she was huge (maybe 7″ shell, head-tail) and she didn’t want to stop, she tried to come out while i was still holding her…oh, and girls also have flat bellies (plastron) while boys have a bit concave belly (better to stay with the girls during that intimate date-night)… : )

    and, you are right – they do not have good homing instincts and can very easily starve to death if released in a new location because they know where the food-patches are in their neighborhood, but not if they are moved. by the time they learn the new lay-of-the-land, they have probably exhausted their resources and can’t keep going… : (

    thank you for caring for the turtle and returning her to her home-area. peace and happy paddling (send some rain down here, we need some in eastern NC)

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  2. I can remember the excitement I felt as a kid capturing the occasional benign turtle and taking it home to watch it for a few hours. Now that I don’t go poking around looking for them, the only turtles I have chance encounters with are snappers. Those things are bastards. When I try to move them from the road they hiss and work out how they’re going to get me as I gingerly coax them from the back, worried that I’m either going to end up roadkill myself or an amputee.

    A little research shows that Greater Boston is in the Eastern Box Turtle’s theoretical range, but I’ve never seen one in the wild.

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  3. Jenny on

    This spring I have seen more turtles in the road than I have seen my whole life. and not just box turtles, The smooth backed ones also, which you never see. I wonder if it has been all the rain? At any rate, I found one a couple years ago in the road near my home, brought it home and plopped it in my garden to eat slugs, and the gal is still out there, I see her occasionally hiding under a hosta. (Didnt know about the going home thing)And my slugs are pretty much nonexistent.
    But it finally warmed up here in southern Ohio and the other day driving down the road I saw some critter crossing and slowed down not to hit it. Sure enough it was a box turtle and he was going hell bent for leather across the road-I mean MOVING. My guess is that asphalt was pretty warm, LOL.

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  4. I canrember that, as a child, my aunt had a box turtle that roamed her yard and several of the neighbors’. It was in her yard for quite a few years. I remember it being really pretty. One year we didn’t see it at all, but the next year it was back.

    Yael

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