2003 update on Linus, Terry, Carol and the Babies.

While I have released the vast majority of the turtles I've dealt with (and in fact, simply move many more off the road and never bring them home at all), I have kept several of the turtles.  Linus, Terry and Carol have moved with us once to our new house.  Part of the deal - written into the contract, actually - was the right to enclose the house with a "turtle garden" on 3 sides.  The garden is enclosed by a sinuous wall composed of 3 levels of landscape blocks, with the ugly insides of the blocks (normally hidden by the dirt they are retaining) towards the house. The house becomes one wall.  To date, we have one main turtle garden covering one side of the house, and a smaller one on the other side of the house. Carol, Linus and Terry have the run of the turtle garden from April to October.  In October they go into hibernation in a plastic tote box in the garage. 

Snake found in the enclosure, probably a hatchling Black Rat Snake.  The turtles will attack and eat full-sized Garter Snakes.

Occasionally they make road trips to school to be used for demonstration in classes.  My real work with them now is to try to get them laying fertile eggs on a regular basis, then rearing the babies out for a while before releasing the babies.  The garden has several areas for them to lay eggs (as well as a small pond).  Aside from the turtles, it is home to 2 species of frogs, toads, and garter snakes.  Everything but the turtles came in on its own.

Above - Leopard Frog in the enclosure.  Left:  The pond, complete with Green Frog (arrow).  There are actually two of them in the pond.  The 3 frogs overwintered successfully and disappeared in the summer of 2003, to be replaced several weeks later by two new frogs, a green frog and a leopard frog.

The year of the move the turtles got out too late to lay eggs. In 2002, we had one nest (that we know of).  At least two babies hatched out, but we never found them.  They may still be in the garden or may have wandered off.  Also in late summer of 2002 the turtles were joined by Quasimodo - so named for his deformed shell.  He had been raised in captivity.  His owner, an experienced aquaculturist who knows about UV light and calcium and other such stuff, was unable to get conditions just right for healthy shell development. This is a cautionary tale for those who would raise babies. Quasi cannot close his shell and thus cannot be released - or even used for educational demonstrations since he would give kids the wrong idea of what a box turtle is  like.  He's a nice turtle who Linus picks on constantly and now Quasi occupies the smaller garden by himself.  Quasi was 18 years old in 2002.

Quasi

Dylan

Dylan is the sole survivor of the eggs laid by Carol and Terry in 1999.  He had a soft shell and I sent him out to Julie Zickefoose for more natural light.  There, he was cared for by both Julie and one of our students, Leslie Ritchie.  His soft shell did not get better and he was sent off to a rehab center.  The rehab center did wonders and his shell firmed up.  He came home to Julie with a new friend, another young box turtle.  Julie is taking care of both, with ample help from Phoebe and Liam and a special $75 light bulb.  The plan is to put these two turtles in the turtle garden to allow them to pick up some extra size before their eventual release at Julie and Bill's farm.  That will be possible now that we have new babies (see below) for Phoebe and Liam to take care of.  By raising the babies for a few years we hope to limit the number of predators that could harm them.  An adult turtle is safe from almost any wild animal, but the small ones are preyed on by a variety of animals, including chipmunks.  As I look at him I am convinced that he is Carol's offspring - though his eyes look like Terry's.  The picture at right was taken in the fall of 2002 - he grew considerably over the winter.

In 2003 we had 5 babies hatch from one nest (there presumably was a second, hidden nest as well).  For more about these babies go here.

Linus on the prowl.

Carol by the wall.  There is lots of mulch to dig in.

 

Linus looking for dinner.

Carol on the path.

 

 

Above: Linus takes a dip. Below - the new garden is much more natural than the old one.

 

  

 

Eric was released in May, 1997.

Karl was released in May, 1997.

Naraht was released in May, 1997.

Linda was released in May, 2000.

Carol Karl Linus Linda Terry

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Updated 3/23/97