Friday, October 12, 2018

My Cousin: The Cogwheel Turtle

The Cogwheel Turtle is also known as the sunburst turtle or spiny turtle, this turtle is found in southeast Asia. It is an omnivore, eating bugs, fruit and vegetable matter. The Cogwheel Turtle is a moderately sized turtle that does well in outdoor enclosures in moderate climates.


Found primarily in Asia, the Cogwheel Turtle makes its home in or near streams in rainforests. The streams are usually shallow and clear. They spend a lot of time wandering on land near their streams, primarily in humid, cool, shaded spots. They are shy and spend a lot of time hiding in grass or under debris. The young turtles spend more time on land than the adults, who are more comfortable in water. They are omnivores, but feed primarily on plant matter. They are nocturnal, meaning they are active during the nighttime.

The Cogwheel Turtle is easy to recognize due to its distinctive shell, which is marked by spines on the keel and pleural scutes. The Cogwheel Turtle grows between 7 and 8.5 inches in length, and weighs up to 5 pounds at maturity. They are named for their spikes, or spines, though adult Cogwheel Turtles may lose their spines when they reach maturity. Young Cogwheel Turtles have been said to resemble pincushions because their spikes are so sharp. As they mature these will wear down and are not nearly as obvious as those of the young. Some adults may not have visible spikes, particularly those on the side. They can be difficult to sex. Males usually have longer, broader tails than the females. Males also have a concave plastron.

Conservation status: endangered.

Monday, October 1, 2018

Grumpy Gertie Gets Down


Meet Gertie, the grumpy Gopher Tortoise. In Florida, Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi, their populations are listed as threatened due to human activity. With their powerful legs, Gopher tortoises can dig burrows up to 40 feet in length. These tortoises are a keystone species due to their beneficial impact on their ecosystem. Many different species rely on the gopher tortoises’ burrows to survive. Gertrude is most likely ‘head-banging’ because she is protecting her burrow.

[Thanks National Geographic for this story]

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

The Maldivian Sea Turtle

Check out MarineSavers for Turtle Conservation info


























Marine turtle population is declining throughout the Indian Ocean region. Persistent over-exploitation, especially catching or killing of adult females on the nesting beach and the widespread collection of eggs are largely responsible for the depleted status of six Indian Ocean species. Marine turtles are also accidentally captured in active or abandoned fishing gears, resulting in death of tens of thousands of turtles annually. Coral reef and sea grass degradation, oil spills, chemical waste, plastic and other marine debris, high density beach-front development, and an increase in ocean-based tourism have damaged or eliminated nesting beaches and feeding grounds.

The Government of the Maldives launched a nationwide campaign on Television Maldives and Voice of Maldives to create greater awareness among the public about the need to save marine turtles. The government prohibited catching or killing of any marine turtle species, and their sale, import and export of its products. However, turtle egg exploitation continues. Without protection of at least some of the eggs and nesting beaches, it is believed that turtle population cannot be perpetuated for the enjoyment of present and future generations.


Wednesday, September 12, 2018

My Cousin: The Radiated Tortoise

Radiated Tortoises live naturally only in the extreme south and southwestern part of the island of Madagascar. They prefer dry regions of brush and thorny woodlands of the island.

They grow up to 16 inches and weigh up to 35 pounds, and is considered to be one of the world's most beautiful tortoises. This basic "tortoise" body shape consists of a high-dome, a blunt head and elephantine feet. The legs, feet, and head are yellow except for a black patch on top of the head. The shell (carapace) of the radiated tortoise is brilliantly marked with yellow lines radiating from the center of each dark plate of the shell, hence its name. This "star" pattern is more finely detailed.


The radiated tortoise is a grazing herbivore. They feed during the day mostly on grasses, fruit and succulent plants. Their grazing habits keep vegetation closely trimmed.

Radiated tortoises may live as long as 40 to 50 years. Sadly, these handsome tortoises are severely endangered due to loss of habitat, being poached for food, and being over exploited in the pet trade.


Saturday, August 18, 2018

There's Wisdom in Age






















Old age takes in part savory wisdom for its food -
see to it that your old age will not lack in nourishment.  
- Leonardo da Vinci

Sunday, August 12, 2018

My Cousin: The Soft Shell

Here's a soft shell variety of terrapin. Just look at this guy. He seems so flat and floppy. These turtles look like big leathery pancakes. The adults are brownish-green or tan with blotches on their skin. Their shells are covered with skin, and are soft around the edges. Their noses are long and round. When they swim, they stay underwater and stick their nose up to breathe, like a snorkel. Their feet are webbed and their necks are quite long. What an amazing species!



Softshell turtles can be very aggressive, and they sometimes bite each other and turtles of other species spontaneously or when feeding. Turtles with soft shells tend to be more aggressive than their more protected relatives. Florida softshell turtles are found on the coastal plains south of Mobile Bay, Alabama, and Charleston, South Carolina, including all of Florida except the Keys. Their preferred habitat is slow-moving bodies of fresh water with mud or sand bottoms. They spend much of their time buried in the soft bottom with only their head exposed. Softshell turtles are primarily carnivorous, feeding on aquatic insects, crustaceans, mollusks, fish, waterfowl and amphibians.

Flapjacks, anyone?

Thursday, July 12, 2018

My Cousin: The Red-Footed Tortoise

The Red-Footed Tortoise is a captive-bred, readily available and fairly hardy tortoise that makes a wonderful captive. Adults range from 10 to 14 inches in length, and originate across South America tropical forests and grasslands.

Red-footed tortoises require strong enclosures - it is best to make an indoor tortoise enclosure long and relatively narrow. A temperature gradient should be provided or a hot rock may also be used so long as a cool area is always provided. Red-footed tortoises are almost half bone and shell, so they have a great need for calcium. In order to absorb all the calcium they require, calcium levels in their diet must exceed phosphorus levels.
Foods high in calcium, but low in phosphorus, include dandelion greens, collard greens, parsley, kelp, watercress, celery and orange rind. An almost exclusive vegetarian diet is best; pesticide-free grass can provide roughage.

Look at this beauty!!