Tag Archives: turtles

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 ?



Turtles Eating Lunch, Tiny Turtles and Scorplings!

3 Sep

Check out these photos of the rehab and resident box turtles and tortoises eating a great lunch of veggies and worms!


That’s Chewy chewing on an organic non GMO tomato I grew in my garden.


Charlie the Redfoot and Vadim the Russian Tortoise eat corn and spinach.


Ben Franklin on the left finishing off an Earthworm and then Rasputin also eating an earthworm.  This is the first food Rasputin has eaten in over two months!  He was hit by a car in June–it fractured his shell in several places including the hinge that connects the carapace (top) and plastron (bottom) halves of his shell together.  The Trails students and I had to apply a massive shell patch to his shell to give him a chance at life.  We have also had to tube feed him  several times since his accident because he has not wanted to eat until today.  It is great to see him out socializing with the other turtles and eating again–another success story I hope.  If he makes it through the winter we will know that we have hopefully saved his life.

The turtle in the middle is Crash–she was hit by a car in June of 2012 and suffered an injury similar to Rasputin’s but she has healed very well and is doing great–a great success story for sure!

That is Rose on the right looking on–she was first to the worm pile and already has eaten her fill.

Snappers go home!

A few weeks ago I released some cute little baby snapping turtles into a pond–take a look!


They were fond by campers at Camp Illahee over the summer.  The girls kept them in the aquarium in the nature center and learned all about them before camp was over and I released them back into the pond where they were found.


A future monster–if he survives the catfish, bass, birds, coons, larger turtles and snakes that all prey on baby turtles–good luck little guy!

From the Nature Center at the Academy

We have had an amazing event over the weekend–our Imperial Scorpion “Fluffy” is now a mother!  Check out the photos of mama and babies below!


and another view


and a close up of a baby scorpling!


There are at least 14 babies and she may not be finished giving birth–they can have dozens of offspring!  Mama will take care of them for several weeks by killing insects, ripping them into tiny pieces, and then passing the pieces back to the babies on her back–so cool!   After a few weeks the babies will start turning darker and their exoskeletons will harden protecting them from drying out and giving them some protection from predators.  Then they will begin to venture out on their own to begin their life as an important predator on small insects in their native habitat of the jungles of Africa.  In the nature center they rely on me to feed them home grown crickets, meal worms and roaches.

I will be looking for homes for these little cuties in a couple of months when they are old enough to be adopted–anyone interested in a scorpion?

Scorpion Facts: Scorpions have been around for over 400 million years.  The first scorpion-like creatures lived in the sea and were anywhere from 4 inches to 8 feet in length–now that is one big scorpion!  The Imperial (aka Emperor) Scorpion is one of the largest living scorpions.  They are native to tropical Africa and life in burrows on the forest floor.  They have a mild venom that is produced from the stinger at the end of their tail appendage which is called a telson.   Scorpion venom has a fearsome reputation, but only about 25 out of almost 1500 species are known to have venom powerful enough to kill a person.  In fact, studies are being done that indicate many positive medical benefits of compounds found in scorpion venom such as possible treatments for autoimmune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease and multiple sclerosis, the treatment and diagnosis of several types of cancer and  anti-malarial drugs.

I will be sure to keep you updated on the scorpions, turtles, snakes and other happenings at Earthshine and at Trails.

%d bloggers like this: