Friday, June 3, 2011

Why Did The Snapping Turtle Cross The Road?

To get to the pond in the field on the other side.

We were driving north on a rural road in Wilkes County, Georgia, when we saw a turtle crossing the road. Even at a distance, it was easy to identify it as a Common Snapping Turtle (Chelydra serpentina). Even if turtles are moving in the right direct
ion, we do like to make sure they are well off the pavement before we leave.

A not-too-distant view. A handsome young turtle, with a carapace about 10-12 inches long, making its way purposefully across the road.

Even closer, but not too close.

Its head. Obviously it's very alert.

An interesting iris. Do all turtles have this type of iris?

Strong claws…

And a dragon-like tail. Quite prehistoric.

We talked with it about moving off the road so that it wouldn’t be run over. This one didn’t think it needed any help, thank you. And it was very agile. When we tried to encourage it off the pavement, it swung around surprisingly fast to face what it perceived as a threat.

'Ok, I'm leaving now'

Although I’ve seen several Snapping Turtles at fairly close range, I’d never noticed that the back end of the Snapping Turtle’s carapace was distinctly ‘serrated’

Enough of humans. It’s off into the grass towards the fence.

And further still

Almost to the fence.

Looking for a way through the shrubs along the fence.

And through the fence to ‘freedom’

Click on an image to view a larger image

Identification and Distribution:

- Savannah River Ecology Laboratory, Herpetology Program: Common Snapping Turtle (Chelydra serpentina).

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