Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Outside the Box (Turtle)

B and I were heading to the lighthouse a week ago Sunday, when we came upon a small box turtle in the road. It was a country road near our house and so we turned around and went back to take a look.


I decided to let it visit kindergarten. We took it back to the house and it spent the night in a small glass aquarium with a bunch of leaf litter in it. I could see there were small bugs in it, in case it was hungry. I read that they will eat greens, fruits, bugs, worms and need a variety to stay healthy.

The next morning, the children were so excited as I carried it around for them to observe its amazing two-piece bottom shell (plastron) that protects it much better than our yellow-bellied slider’s does.  We continued to compare and contrast the two turtles. And I talked to them a little about the anatomy of the turtle, especially the fact that turtles’ bones are connected to their shells and that a turtle can not come out of its shell, as we take off a sweater.


It ended up spending the week and really acted as though it was comfortable when I put it in the aquarium with Louvenia, the slider. And while Louvenia was curious, she did not act as though she minded sharing her territory with the box turtle. Louvenia is much larger.


Below, the box turtle is on the right on the floating rock.

Here you can see it better.

I had read that they are clumsy swimmers and may exhaust themselves if there is no float, but that was not the case with this little one. It swam and floated and climbed and seemed  content. Sometimes, I put it back in the leaf litter where I had put food on a large flat rock, but I never knew if it ate and so on Friday, I brought it home and released it on the ground by the swamp across from our house.

For the longest time, it did nothing, keeping its shell closed tightly. I was beginning to wonder if I would have the patience to wait for it to do something. B said, “It’s a turtle. They’re SLOW.”

Oh, yeah.

Finally, a nose came out and then one leg.

Then the head came out and began looking around. But the turtle still did not otherwise move.

We waited and watched and then it pulled in its head and began to burrow right where it sat.

It kept burrowing until if you had not known it was there, you might have walked right on it.

And so we said our good-byes.


David said...

Cool! Until I saw the underwater supports, I was quite impressed with your floating rock!

Dani said...

I had a first grade teacher do the same. Those couple of days with the turtle created a lifelong love of reptiles for me.

Great teachers rock :)