Finding Odyssa

11 Sep

Recently, “Trina” – one of the students in one of my classes known as Alpha – was doing a wood run and found an ancient Eastern box turtle!


This was the first adult box turtle found at our Sky Valley study site since 2014!  The students and I collected the vial scientific data on this old female box turtle and in doing so found that she has a unique injury that she has overcome with great dignity – her plastron (bottom shell) has broken free from her carapace (top shell)!  How this happened in the deep forests far from humans  we have no idea but whatever caused it, it must have been very traumatic but Odyssa*, as we named the ancient old reptile, pulled through the hardship and continued on her life’s odyssey. Box turtles are just amazing creatures.

After collecting the needed science data for our Turtle Trails and the statewide Box Turtle connection project, we released Odyssa at her discovery location.  “Trina” and the Alpha girls were all very excited to be a part of such a wonderful find and we documented the event in a video I produced here:


Things to know:

  1. Box turtles are protected by law in many areas.  This means no collecting, harming or touching other than helping them across the street.
  2. Box turtles do not make good pets.  They have very strict food/habitat requirements, may live for a century,  and see #1.
  3. Box turtles are very beneficial animals to have in your yard/garden.  They love to eat the pests that would otherwise eat your garden fruits and veggies such as slugs, snails, caterpillars and so on.  Count yourself lucky if you have a box turtle in your yard/garden.  Yes, they will occasionally eat a strawberry or tomato but even they need a balanced diet.
  4. Box turtles are “home-bodies” and live in very small habitats their entire lives.  Research shows that moving them away from their habitats can be detrimental to their health and to their lives.
  5. If you find a box turtle crossing a road – it is not lost.  It is only crossing the road.  All you need to do is gently pick it up – they do not bite – and move it to the side of the road that it was moving toward.  Place it a few yards off of the road and it will go on its way.
  6. If you find an injured box turtle and it has a cracked and bleeding shell or damaged appendage please place it in a container and take it to the nearest veterinarian.  They will have a list of local rehabilitators who will care for the turtle at no charge to you. Most importantly – be sure to write down the EXACT location where you found the turtle and give this information to the veterinarian/rehabilitator.  This is so they will be able to take the turtle back to its habitat for release when it is better (see #2) .
  7. Respect the wonderful box turtle.

Read my recent story on why I save snakes and turtles and Opossums.

*Why Odyssa ?



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