Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Update on Thomas the Turtle

Thomas the Turtle is still hanging around the yard. The boys and I spent an hour on Sunday watching him. He moved several feet around the yard but finally returned to he usually spot just under our big tree in the front of the house.

I've been doing some research and it turns out he's an Eastern Box Turtle. Here's what I've learned:
  • They're not aquatic (so he didn't come from the creek behind our neighborhood).
  • They eats insects, mushrooms, berries, and other vegetation.
  • Box turtles are some of the longest lived and slowest reproducing species in the world.
  • They have natural homing instincts that causes them to return to the place of their birth (within 200 meters) if they're ever moved.
  • It's fairly rare to find them in the Great Lakes region.
In talking to the neighbors, it sounds as though a few have hosted Thomas in their yards in the past. One neighbor said he's been around for years. Due to the threat of their species, we're aren't supposed to keep him in captivity. I guess we'll have to pass on having him as a pet. We'll leave him be and hope that he helps with reproduction of more turtles.

Speaking of reproduction, I'm pretty sure Thomas is a girl. Apparently female box turtles have "boxier" shells and orangish eyes while the male turtle has a flatter shell and red eyes. I looked at Thomas's eyes and they look reddish orange to me. But the shape of the shell seems to indicate female. Hopefully Thomas is laying lots of eggs this summer and we'll see some baby turtles in the fall.


Melissa Mix Hart said...

So cool about Thomas the turtle--she could be 200 years old!

Anonymous said...

Thomas may well be a female. If so, keep an eye out for her laying her nest and protect it. You can google box turtle nest protection to learn more. Most turtles never make it out of the clutch, due to predation. Check your yard around dusk. Nesting season begins late May and goes until mid-June.
Good luck!