Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Dog Vadar Goes Tortoise!

Trying to get in on the holiday action...

Personal Space Issues


Saturday, October 18, 2014

Longshadow

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!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

My Cousin: The Hinge-Back Tortoise


The Hinge-back Tortoises, as they are commonly called, develop a hinge that allows them to close the rear of their carapace, protecting their back legs.
Hinge-back tortoises appear to be typical tortoises on first inspection but Hinge-backs are considerably longer than they are wide, more closely resembling a Red-footed Tortoise than a Leopard Tortoise, for example. In overall size this species are on the smaller end of the tortoise range.
 
Hinge-backs possess the elephantine feet associated with tortoises, although the front feet are not quite as blunt as the rear. Their forelegs usually have a series of enlarged, downward-pointing scales while the rear legs lack these scales. In these chelonians the head is only of medium size, while their tail ends in a nail-like spike. Of course, the Hinge-back's distinguishing characteristic is the unique hinge that develops in adults at the rear of the carapace, between the seventh and eighth marginal scutes.
 
Hinge-Back Tortoise enjoying a salad!
The carapacial hinges allow the tortoises to clamp down the rear of their carapaces, giving increased protection to their tail and legs. Hinge-backs also have effective defenses for their front legs and head. When threatened, a tortoise can retract its head quite far. Its front legs then seal the anterior opening in the carapace; the knees meet in front of the head with the feet pointing to either side. The enlarged scales on the forelegs face outward in this position, protecting the legs themselves and effectively closing the tortoise off from the world.
 
The Hinge-backs inhabit a diverse array of habitats in central and southern Africa, primarily in grassland and savannah regions, although some individuals can be found in coastal forests. These regions often go through times of drought, and Bell's Hinge-back burrow underground to survive these periods. This tortoise has large anal sacs which can be filled with water, taking up a large percentage of the abdominal cavity, to help it during the dry season. This stored water may be used by females when building nests to help loosen and moisten the soil in and around the nest.
 
Hinge-backs are omnivorous feeders in the wild. In addition to greens, they consume snails, insects such as millipedes and beetles, and will scavenge corpses when encountered. In captivity they will eat a wide variety of vegetable matter, including green beans, broccoli, squash, mushrooms, and bananas. They readily take mealworms and mealworm beetles, cooked chicken, and liver. Earthworms are relished; they are grabbed, whipped from side to side, and swallowed rapidly.



Monday, September 29, 2014

Hatchery at Melina Beach

Melina Beach Turtle Hatchery video, made in conjunction with Ecofieldtrips, featuring footage of adult turtles from dive trips on Tioman Island with Ecofieldtrips.


Friday, September 26, 2014

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

"Snap" This Up!

Snapper sculpture, a lovely addition for any home!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Fine Art Turtle


painting by Jane Schnetlage

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Nature's Mysteries

Here is two-headed Red Ear Slider enjoying his/their day:

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Spot!

Diamondback Terrapins with spotted legs are gorgeous - even sexy!

Learn how to help save these endangered species at the Turtle Survival Alliance

Saturday, September 6, 2014

My Cousin: The Beale's Eyed Turtle

The Beale's Eyed Turtle (Sacalia bealei) is a species of turtle in the family Geoemydidae, named in honor of Thomas Beale, a Scottish naturalist and merchant in China. Most commonly called a "four-eyed" turtle, the spots on the head of this species appear to be another set of eyes.

The Beale's Eye grows up to around 6 inches in length and in the wild, they feed upon carrion, snails, beetle larvae, earthworms, water plants and fruits. They can be found in woodland streams and brooks in southern China from Fujian to eastern Guangdong Province.

This species is listed as endangered by the IUCN, since these turtles are hunted for use in folk medicine.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Hawksbill Harry Says Hello

Hawksbill turtles have been hunted extensively for their shells which make attractive tortoise-shell jewellery, brushes, eyeglass frames and rings. In some parts of the world such as China and Japan, the hawksbill turtle is also eaten as a delicacy. So badly decimated are the hawksbills that these turtles are listed as critically endangered on the IUCN Red List.