Saturday, June 19, 2010
Finally, today I found a snapping turtle in my own backyard pond. I was doing my usual walk-around, watching all the tadpoles frantically swim into the deep, the occasional frog getting spooked... when I saw something moving in the leaves.
I stopped to take a closer look, and I could see the back end of a very mossy shell. I knew it had to be a snapping turtle, as painted turtles never let themselves get that mucky. It was about two feet from shore, and I did not have my net with me, so I stepped into the mud with bare feet and easily picked up the little snapper.
Well, little is in the eye of the beholder.
It was a little upset at first, making a few snaps at me, but it quickly calmed down for a few photos. By the location of the cloaca, I think it's a female. She went back into the pond, I bet she's been doing quite well in there with all the little goldfish.
Side note - snapping turtles STINK! Literally. Next time you get close to one, get a good whiff. I've never met a snapping turtle that didn't smell like something rotting... they have musk glands that can release a powerful stench when they are alarmed.
Part of the reason I was walking around the pond this afternoon was to look for a water snake... yesterday, the neighbor kids were over, and we saw a large northern water snake (Nerodia sipedon) basking in the grass just above the shore. After a few minutes of observation it swam off to bask at the other end of the pond. It was in blue (eyes very cloudy, and scale patterns barely discernible), so maybe next time I see the snake, it will have some fresh shiny scales!