Hope to help with your native turtle questions

Discussion in 'Introductions' started by Turtle Advocate, Oct 18, 2009.

  1. Turtle Advocate

    Turtle Advocate

    Oct 15, 2009
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    Northern Westchester, NY
    Hi Everyone,
    I joined because someone had posted about a box turtle insisting on swimming in his pond. I am a NY Class I Licensed Wildlife Rehabilitator and specialize in Eastern Box Turtles. From my research, I know that it is not normal for a box turtle to be in water constantly. Although they like to swim from time to time, they are land turtles. This behavior is a sign of injury or sickness. The pond owner is now looking into getting this turtle examined by a vet or rehabber.

    I would like to suggest, if you have a local wild population of Box Turtles, that you have some sort of exit slope available, should one fall into your pond. While they are fairly good swimmers, they will drown if stuck.

    I installed my pond as part of my stewardship effort to support the local wild Box Turtle population. Since the liner was slick, and there would be no way for the turtle to gain footing, I lined it with tight plastic mesh. The pond has a gradual slope to it. This combined with the mesh gives enough footing for safe exiting. Pre-formed ponds, or ones constructed with straight drop-offs, like a pool, can easily become death-traps should the water level drop too low.

    Please take this information, if it is applicable to your situation.

    Since I like to educate people about box turtles whenever I can, here is the information that I have in my brochure:

    Four ways you can help save your local wild Box Turtle Populations:

    1. Help them across the road
    Always take a turtle across the road in the direction it is heading. Have a secure grip on each side and carry low to the ground. Move a turtle away from traffic, even if it is on the shoulder.
    2. Be careful when mowing
    Check lawn perimeters and overgrown grass. Mow fields and lawns from the center outwards.
    3. Leave them in the wild and don’t touch them, except to move them out of harm’s way. They are not pets. Turtles are very difficult to keep in captivity and often die a slow death. They thrive best in a wild setting, and removing even one adult can devastate an entire population.
    4. If you find one injured or dead, contact a Wildlife Rehabilitator.
    Turtles have an amazing ability to heal, even from apparently severe injuries. Sometimes eggs can be retrieved from a dead animal and incubated for release by a trained Wildlife Rehabilitator.

    Box Turtles are the most beloved reptile. Yet their numbers are rapidly declining nationwide. Eastern Box Turtles are a species of special concern in many states and it is often illegal to take them from the wild or harm them in any way.

    Turtles are most active from May – October, so please drive with caution when in turtle habitat.

    Eastern Box Turtles can live for as long as 100 years in the wild. They do not reach sexual maturity until at least age six and lay 5-11 eggs per year. Over the course of her lifespan, a female turtle may only produce 1-3 offspring that survive to adulthood.
    This low reproductive rate, which worked well for millions of years, has now been exacerbated by habitat loss, roads, and pet collection, which has greatly diminished the adult breeding population. The increase of "suburban predators" has also put added pressure on nesting success and hatchling survival. These animals often raid nests or devour an entire year's clutch of hatchlings. Turtles did not evolve having to contend with cars and lawn mowers, which take a heavy toll every year.
    Given the high rate of nest failure, the loss of even one adult turtle can devastate an entire population.

    If you have any questions about wild box turtles, please don't hesitate to ask. I will do my best to provide answers and/or suggestions.
    Turtle Advocate, Oct 18, 2009
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  2. Turtle Advocate

    DrDave Innovator Moderator

    Aug 29, 2007
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    Fallbrook, Ca USA
    Welcome to the Forum Patricia! Thank you for the very informative writing on the Box Turtle.

    We are working on a new feature for the Forum that we will hope that you can contribute to in the future. It is still in the planning stage but I can say it will be reference section that contains a Wiki style format, written to by experts and verified by a Moderator before being published on the Forum.

    If you have photos of your ramp and pond, that might help others here with turtles.
    DrDave, Oct 18, 2009
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