it’s the thought that counts

Why did the turtle cross the road?

Today was the final day of our school camp program – next week we shift over to summer camp – and since some of the naturalists are leaving now rather than staying for the summer, we all decided to go out together for a while this last evening.  It was while I was in the bathroom changing into nice clothes for this evening out that there was a knock on the front door.

Now, I’ve mentioned before on this blog that I live in staff housing in a building that doubles as a raptor rehabilitation center, which can sometimes get interesting.  One of my housemates answered the door this time, and when I heard her explaining that we really do only take raptors, I assumed it was someone who wanted to drop off a songbird with a broken wing or something.  Then I heard the word “turtle.”  Wait.  Someone brought us a turtle?  This I had to hear for myself.

It was a man and his son, who had pulled up out front in their pickup.  The man explained that they had found a turtle in the middle of the road, and it wasn’t injured but they wanted to make sure it didn’t get hit by a car.  So… they brought it to a raptor rehabilitation center, of course.  He explained that he was familiar with the outdoor education center and knew we have some reptiles as well, and he thought we might want to add this one to our collection.  He intended it as a donation.

We do have a couple corn snakes and a box turtle that we use for education, but obviously we weren’t just going to adopt a perfectly healthy wild turtle, so we politely explained that the best thing to do would be to let it go somewhere near water safely away from the road.  Do you want to see it? the man asked.  It’s really big!  Well, I couldn’t resist grabbing my camera and coming out to take a look at just what they had before sending them away.

In the bed of the pickup truck was a fully-grown snapping turtle.

Yep.  Definitely can’t take that one to use as an education animal.  I can just picture passing around a snapping turtle for fifth graders to handle… so much paperwork to fill out when their fingers get bitten off…

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5 thoughts on “it’s the thought that counts”

    1. My understanding is that it’s possible, if you’re brave, to pick one up safely (more or less) by the tail. In fact I’ve seen someone use that technique to move one off a road. It can’t be very comfortable for the snapper, though, and I’ve certainly never tried it myself!

  1. ack! not by the tail! As I understand it (though by what authority, I cannot recall) picking up large C. serpentina by the tail can dislocate their tails and cause sever spinal issues that way. I’ve seen pics of people picking up M. temminicki with one hand directly behind the head and one at the end of the carapace above the tail, but I’ve never tried it with C. serpentina, because full grown, pissed-off snappers are heavy!

    1. Ha – in my defense I wrote this post well over a year ago and I’ve learned a lot since then. At my last job, in Georgia, we had a smallish snapping turtle in captivity for a while and my coworker who was in charge of taking care of it did indeed pick it up by the back of the carapace. I’m not sure I’d have the guts to do that, though, especially with a really big one. If I found one in the road I’d just have to herd it to safety with a big stick or something…

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