Tag Archives: eastern box turtle tripod hibernation torpor shell repair carapace plastron northern copperhead

First turtles out of long winter sleep!

23 Mar

Chewy, Tripod and Lucky are the first box turtles in the Earthshine turtle pen to make an appearance this year.  They ventured out of their cozy winter dens on March 22–a good 2-3 weeks earlier than the last few years.  Their early appearance is most likely due to the unusually warm winter–the first winter that I remember without snow–and very warm spring that we have been having.  The temperatures were in the high 70’s and low 80’s on the afternoon when they three turtles decided that it was time to move.  Take a look at their photos below.

A closeup of Tripod–she is basking in the warm sun and does not look fully awake yet.

Chewy is on the move!

He is a dirty turtle!

Chewy has beautiful cherry-red eyes.

In other news:  Crash, an adult female Eastern box turtle that was brought to us in June of 2011 with a horribly fractured shell and badly damaged rear leg–is about ready to be released into the outdoor pen at Earthshine.  She will join Chewy, Tripod, Lucky and the other turtles in a few weeks when the danger of a late freeze has past.

While her leg injury has totally healed, you may notice the white patch on her carapace (top shell)–that is an epoxy patch that is helping to hold her shell in place while it heals.  She has another large patch on her plastron (bottom shell) as well.  She will keep these epoxy patches for one more year to facilitate a strong bond between the fractured pieces of her shell.  Then I will remove them and she will be good to go.  Unfortunately she will have to live out the remainder of her life in a controlled outdoor environment because her injuries prevent her from closing her shell entirely to protect her from predators.  However, her future offspring will be released on the mountain at Earthshine when they are old enough to fend for themselves.

Penny the Northern Copperhead poses for some photos below.

Copperheads are beautiful and venomous and they are a very beneficial part of a healthy ecosystem.  They eat countless small rodents such as voles, moles and mice and even some insects such as cicadas.  If you see a copperhead in the wild please do not harm it–marvel at its beauty and leave it alone so that it can do its job.  If you are bitten by a copperhead it will be very painful but for healthy adults it is usually not a life threatening injury.  Calmly and quickly visit the hospital to receive treatment and most people will recover with no ill effects.

    Come visit the turtles, Penny the copperhead and our other animals at Earthshine Nature Center’s Open House and benefit event on May 12th 2012.  For more information on the event please visit this link.

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