Friday, June 27, 2008
In the urban jungle
Although I've been living here for ten years, I had never met this other resident of my urban jungle lot before today. Oberon, the Huskador Retriever, found him or perhaps "her" before I did because the turtle was completely hidden inside the shell, which lead me to a description of the box turtle as the only type that can completely hide appendages, head and tail.
The turtle's shell was at least 6 inches long and highly domed. I did pick it up and look at the bottom, but quickly set it down again. That was the only time I touched it. After I put the dog inside, I sat outside -- with camera ready -- to observe. After about five minutes, the turtle's head poked out and it began to move with great purpose. I followed, snapping away with the camera.
It made eye contact with me once, but as I stayed at a respectful distance, it did not close itself in again.
The turtle climbed the concrete step along the walk right beside my back door,then turned right into a shady garden bed filled with ferns, sweet woodruff and ivy. It had to tilt itself a bit to get through the 4 inch opening in the wire fencing. As it did not seem confused at all, I got the impression this turtle had travelled this route before. Once beyond the fencing, it quickly vanished into the greenery. I let it go and have resolved not to go poking in there, as I want that turtle to continue to live here as long as it likes.
Later on, I noticed a turtle sized path in the undergrowth along the right side of my property line. It's all shaded and damp along that side, and the path goes under another fence to the front of the property where there is a dogwood tree and assorted grasses and vines providing a nice wild sanctuary for the turtle. In that area, I have run into a toad and once found a snake's cast off skin. The front area is much more sheltered as the dog doesn't hang out there.
Turtles eat insects and slugs, so I'm betting this turtle had been dining in the back garden where the slugs were out in force after all the rain. Although my urban jungle is in reality a tiny city lot, I am happy it has enough natural wildness about it to attract and keep healthy such a magnificent creature as this turtle.