I laughed out loud when looking through photos from several days ago, not realizing that at the time when taking snapshots of these beautiful Painted Turtles at Niles Pond they were not only basking, but also rubbernecking, and mostly all in the same direction. The turtles were on a rock adjacent to the Snapping Turtle (below), which at first glance looked like two rocks, a smaller stone (its head) and a large stone (body).
The Snapping Turtle was about a foot long, unlike the Snapping Turtle furtively gliding through the murky water several weeks ago at Henry’s Pond. The stealthy one in the last photo was huge and appeared to be just shy of two feet!!
Turtles are ectotherms, relying on sunlight to warm and regulate their body temperature.
It’s June First so if you take walks and are observant it is likely you will come upon a large leathery object laying at the side of the road or in your garden or making your dog excited. Congratulations, you have come upon a female snapping turtle who is slowly making her way uphill. Her brain is telling her she has to go up, then down just a little bit before she stops to scrape a hole and drop a bunch of ping pong ball eggs in the hole. She then crawls back to the pond and you won’t see her again for another year.
Rule 1: leave her be.
Rule 2: stay away. If you insist on taking a photo, stay well clear of the end that does not have a tail. That end has a set of jaws that can snap out and take a finger off with one crunch. Your dog should be smart enough to know that also includes dog noses but if she is a dumb dog, keep your dog away. A smart dog knows that a snapper has quite a long neck and can reach out just a little bit further than where a dumb dog puts her nose.
The turtle does not need saving. Just leave it. Snapping turtles are not endangered, every single pond in Massachusetts has one. They are only endangered by a well meaning person who wants to throw a blanket over it and put her back in the pond. That just upsets the turtle and she will have to return because she has these ping pong balls that need to go somewhere. If for some insane reason you think you have to move the turtle do not pick her up by her tail. You likely just dislocated her vertebrae and you may as well take her home and throw her in the soup pot.
If you have a neighbor who catches them and eats turtle soup and eats the eggs raw with a little soy sauce and chili, don’t freak out. Try one, you might like it. I’ll try anything once but that is one delicacy that is not on my bucket list.