Sunday, November 23, 2014

Little Fish Big Pond

Considering getting a turtle as a pet? There are things you should know. First read this.

PetSmart also has a guide to help you learn about turtles as pets

Friday, November 21, 2014

Alligator Snapper Goes for It!

(learning a lesson the hard way?)

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Friday, November 14, 2014

13 FUN Facts About Turtles & Tortoise

1. A tortoise is a turtle, but a turtle isn't a tortoise.
A turtle is any shelled reptile belonging to the order Chelonii. The term "tortoise" is more specific, referring to terrestrial turtles. (Of course, there's always an exception. In this case, the land-dwelling box turtle.) Tortoises are usually herbivorous and can't swim.
One easy way to tell 'em apart: look at their feet and shells. Water turtles have flippers or webbed feet with long claws, and their shells are flatter and more streamlined. Tortoises have stubby, elephant-like feet and heavier, domed shells.

2. A group of tortoises is called a creep.
But you won't see a creep very often. (Not that kind, anyway.) Tortoises are solitary roamers. Some mother tortoises are protective of their nests, but they don't care for their young after they hatch.

3. Tortoises inspired the ancient Roman military.
During seiges, soldiers would get in testudo formation, named after the Latin word for tortoise. The men formed rows and held shields in front or above them to completely shelter the unit.

4. "Testudinal" means "pertaining to or resembling a tortoise or tortoise shell."
Go ahead. Compliment your friend's testudinal sunglasses.

5. Tortoises have an exoskeleton AND an endoskeleton.
The shell has three main parts: the top carapace, the bottom plastron, and the bridge that fuses these pieces together. You can't see them, but every tortoise has ribs, a collar bone, and a spine inside its shell.

6. The scales on the carapace are called scutes.
Made of the same keratin found in fingernails and hooves, scutes protect the bony plates of the shell from injury and infection. The growth rings around scutes can be counted to determine the approximate age of wild tortoises.

7. The lighter the shell, the warmer the origin.
Tortoises from hot places tend to have lighter-colored shells than tortoises from cooler areas. The light tan sulcata originates from the southern part of the Sahara Desert.

8. They can't swim, but tortoises can hold their breath for a long time.
They're extremely tolerant of carbon dioxide. It's a good thing—tortoises have to empty their lungs before they can go into their shells. You'll often hear them exhale when they're startled and decide to hide.

9. And yes, their shells are sensitive to touch.
Shells have nerve endings, so tortoises can feel every rub, pet, or scratch ... and sometimes they love it. Note: This delightful creature is a turtle, not a tortoise.

10. Sulcatas are one of the most popular pet tortoises—and one of the biggest.
Get ready to move to the suburbs and amend your will. Sulcatas are the third largest tortoise species in the world, behind the Galapagos and Aldabra giant tortoise. They can live more than 100 years and weigh up to 200 pounds.

11. Charles Darwin and Steve Irwin cared for the same tortoise, a Galapagos gal named Harriet.
Darwin is said to have collected and named Harriet back in 1835. She was sent to England and eventually wound up at Australia Zoo, founded by Steve Irwin's parents. She finally passed on in 2006, the same year as the Crocodile Hunter's fatal encounter with a stingray.

12. They're the ultimate conservationists.
Tortoises can extract water and nutrients from even the most paltry bites. Their hindgut system works like a double digestive tract, separating water from their waste. When water's scarce, they'll hang on to water waste and simply excrete the urates, which look like white toothpaste.

13. They can smell with their throats.
Like other reptiles, tortoises detect the faintest of smells with the vomeronasal organ, or Jacobson's Organ, on the roof of their mouths. Instead of flicking their tongues, they pump their throats to circulate air through the nose and around the mouth.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Girl Turtle or Boy Turtle - How to Tell

It's a boy, err, uhh... You won't be able to tell a tortoise's sex until it reaches a certain size, which varies by breed. The most obvious tell is the plastron—for mating purposes, it's flatter on females and curved on males. Males also tend to be larger and have longer tails.

If you're a tortoise owner who prefers surprises, just wait for your pet to come out of his or her shell. Males will eventually display their private parts while soaking. And it's not uncommon for females to lay eggs, even without a mate to fertilize them.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

No Place Sacred

Is there no place on this property that I can have some peace and quiet? I mean, really. Season is just over and there's no place to hide. #winterdepression

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Monday, November 3, 2014

Friday, October 31, 2014

How to Ninja

If you are going to ninja, you should do it right!
Happy Halloween!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Anatomy in a [nut]shell

[click to enlarge]

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Dog Vadar Goes Tortoise!

Trying to get in on the holiday action...

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Saturday, October 18, 2014


My last good waxing of the season!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

My Cousin: The Florida Cooter

Florida Cooters are large turtles, ranging in size from 9 - 13 inches, and are flatter in appearance than the similar slider turtle (Trachemys scripta). Their carapace has a dark background with a yellow or orange pattern. The plastron has no markings, and there are hollow oval markings on the marginal scutes. The yellowish orange stripes on the head do not form "hairpins," as in some of its close relatives. The Florida cooter is very similar in appearance to the Peninsula cooter (P. peninsularis) and River Cooter (P. concinna).

Florida River Cooters lazing with a friend

Range and Habitat: Florida Cooters are found throughout the Southeastern Coastal Plain and prefer permanent waters with soft sandy bottoms and abundant vegetation, such as ponds, lakes, swamps, marshes, and slow-moving rivers. They are frequently observed basking on logs.

The cooter is mainly herbivorous and inhabits lakes, sloughs, ponds, slow-flowing streams, and other still bodies of water with soft bottoms and abundant aquatic vegetation. However, it can be found in high densities in some Florida spring runs, usually in heavily vegetated areas with little flow. This species is active year-round and spends a large portion of the day basking on logs.

Flordia Peninsula Cooter
Coastal cooters are frequently exported for consumption and the pet trade, with about 60% wild caught individuals and 40% captive bred. Recent protection by many southeastern states has curbed this exploitation but illegal harvest for local consumption may still threaten some populations.

Fun Fact: Peninsula cooters construct an unusual 3-hole nest, digging one deep center hole and shallower ‘false nest’ holes on either side. The female lays most of the eggs in the center hole, putting only one or two eggs in each of the false nests. The false nests are thought to distract predators from the main nest, although in most cases predators appear to find all three.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Friday, October 10, 2014

Can I Borrow Some Lipstick?

...for this white-lipped Diamondback?

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Post-Life Turtledom

Several tombs in Lingshan Islamic Cemetery (Lingshan Park) in Quanzhou, China are classic Fujian "turtle-back tombs"; others, of a hybrid variety, with the central "turtle back" replaced with an Islamic-style sarcophagus.  Graves are mounded in the form of a turtle's carapace, surrounded by a horseshoe-shaped ridge. There are apparently complicated feng shui reasons beyond this design.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Armed & Extremely Dangerous

happy birthday to my Texan honcho in SF!