Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Slow and Steady


We walked down a dike to explore a little at the St. Marks Wildlife Refuge on Sunday afternoon and stumbled upon (almost literally) this box turtle. I believe it may well be a Florida Box Turtle, Terrapene carolina bauri , or a  Terrapene carolina major. If we had stopped to count the toes on the back feet, we could know for sure. Maybe next time!


Have to wonder what is going on with the carapace. Maybe a predator. Whatever it was, several of the scutes were missing.

When we came back, it had decided to move around a bit. The length of its neck was a little surprising.


You can see how the scutes grow and expand similar to tree rings, and can be used to determine a turtle's age. There are well-documented cases of box turtles living 50 years or more. The scutes are made of a material similar to keratin, like our fingernails. The missing scutes have been replaced by bone. Under this, the turtle's ribs and spine are fused to the shell.


I was fascinated by its eyelids. They close primarily UP when it blinks. I read that since this one's eyes were more brown than red or orange, it is probably a female.


And so the year of reptiles continues!

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