(Click here to go to the beginning of the story.)
I must admit I was concerned about Naraht by the spring of 2003 - he hadn't been seen since 2000. There are many fates that can befall a turtle in the wild, and we had just had two nasty winters. The winter of 2001-2002 hadn't seemed to be that cold, but it was dry with little snow to insulate the ground. In addition, there had been warm spells followed by deep cold - the kind of weather that could lure a turtle out of hibernation then catch him on the surface, unprotected. The winter of 2002-2003 had seen a lot of snow.
You can imagine my relief when I got this email from Julie Zickefoose:
This is a massive mailing, but I am so excited! After two years' absence, the rehabilitated turtle named Naraht, who was released here, I believe, in 1996, has returned for his May strawberry and mealworm brunch. He was hit by a car or baseball bat and his shell was wired together by Prof. Dave McShaffrey of Marietta College. After a couple of years convalescence, Dave released him on our place. Now, turtles have been known to wander aimlessly when released in unfamiliar places, but Naraht had the sense to stay put. The spring of 1997, he came up to the front door. I treated him to strawberries and mealworms, and introduced him to a lovely female who'd been slightly cracked by our tractor wheel. He ate, mated, and went on his merry way. No wonder he showed up most mornings that spring and for several thereafter, waiting by the front door for whatever good things I would produce. He'd show up the second week of May, come in the morning for breakfast, and then we'd see him irregularly through the summer.
The last two years, Naraht never appeared. I feared the massive dig-up for our tower construction had killed him. Phoebe wrote him notes, and left them all over the yard: "Naraht, please come home! I miss you!" Maybe he found them.
So it was with immense delight that I spotted him trundling across the lawn this morning, headed for the front door. He had obviously had a large slug for breakfast when I put out his plate of berries and worms, but he gave it a good go anyway. I think he was looking for a woman, actually, but our juvenile Daisy's still too young for him. In this picture, you can clearly see the healed break in his shell, and the two holes where Dave wired his shell together eight years ago.
Two days ago, I found a male boxy crossing our road, who had obviously been crushed by a car--last spring! He was well on his way to healing and could close his shell completely. He was nice and heavy and his eyes were bright--so I blessed him and sent him on his way. Imagine making it through hibernation with an injury like that.
There is nothing so amazing as an individual creature, closely observed.
As an aside, do a Google search on Naraht - the turtle is bigger than the character he was named for!
2005 - Naraht returns! I just got a phone call from Julie. 2 days after I had my class out there she found Naraht again on September 22, 2005. She reports he is in great shape, and that his shell has largely healed.
Naraht, September 22, 2005
Naraht has now been in the wild for over 8 years as of September, 2005. He was brought in in the fall of 1995, released in May of 1997 after a year and a half of rehabilitation. Who knows how many times he's mated during that period and how many of his offspring are now roaming the hills. It's a tough life for a little box turtle, but this guy is passing on toughness genes. Good luck, my friend.
If you missed the first part of Naraht's tale, click here.
Carol Karl Linus Linda Terry
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