Tuesday, April 24, 2018

My Cousin: The Keeled Box Turtle


 This terrestrial Asian Box turtle, or Keeled Box Turtle gets its name from the three large keels, or raised ridges, on its upper shell. Overall it is brownish in colour, ranging from tan to mahogany to dark brown. As well as noticeable keels, the upper shell, or carapace, is serrated at the rear, and occasionally also at the front. The lower shell, or plastron, is yellow to light brown with a dark-brown smudge on each scute.

Like other box turtles, the front of the lower shell is hinged, allowing them to fold it up when their head is withdrawn, and shut themselves in their protective ‘box.’ The head is brown with dark fine lines, and it has a short snout and a hooked, strong upper jaw. Its limbs are grey to dark brown or black, and the hindlegs are slightly club-shaped, whilst the fronts of the forelegs are covered with large scales. The toes of the keeled box turtle are only partially webbed, which hints at its terrestrial, rather than aquatic, lifestyle. Males have longer and thicker tails than females, and often the sexes can also be distinguished by the colour of their irises; females tend to have orange or red eyes, whilst the irises of males are brown or black. Juveniles are quite flat, and become more domed in shape as they develop.

There is little known about the biology of this species in the wild, and so most of the information available comes from those in captivity. During courtship, males can be very aggressive towards females, and will often chase the female, biting at her shell, legs and neck, sometimes even causing an injury. The male will persist for some time before the female finally relents to his advances.


In the wild, keeled box turtles show a preference for plant foods, particularly fallen fruits, but also occasionally feed on worms and snails.

The keeled box turtle occurs in China, in the Guangdong, Guangxi and Hunan provinces and on Hainan Island, and in Vietnam and India. Unlike other turtles, the keeled box turtle is not aquatic, but is instead found in forests, often in deep layers of leaf litter, and in rocky, mountainous regions.


The keeled box turtle is classified as Endangered (EN) on the IUCN Red List. As part of the World Conservation Society’s Asian Turtle Conservation Program, efforts are underway to protect the keeled box turtle within Vietnam’s Cuc Phuong National Park.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Meet Mr. Handsome

The prehistoric-looking Alligator Snapping Turtle is the largest freshwater
turtle in North America and among the largest in the world. With its spiked
shell, beak-like jaws, and thick, scaled tail, this species is often referred to
as the "dinosaur of the turtle world."

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Best Slide Ever

If you were a human child, wouldn't you want to slide down the back of a giant turtle? Well, I know I would!

Friday, April 6, 2018

My Cousin: The Common Musk Turtle



























The Common Musk Turtle is also known as the Stinkpot Turtle because these animals can emit an offensive, foul odor from the glands that are located at the corners of their plastron. Along with this odor comes an orange colored liquid. However, that usually only happens when these turtles are startled or frightened.

Common Musk Turtles are aquatic and found in the eastern parts of North America, all the way from Ontario down to Florida. They are also found in habitats extending to the west, into Wisconsin and Texas. They can live between 30 and 50 years under the right conditions.

These turtles are typically located in river habitats, as well as slow-flowing portions of streams. They can also be found in ponds and lakes.

You will notice that Common Musk Turtle features a blackish-brown colored carapace that is also highly domed and has a vertebral keel, while the plastron is smaller. The keel typically flattens in adults, but it will be highly prominent amongst Common Musk hatchlings and juveniles.

In the wild, the Common Musk Turtle will feast on a varied diet. For example, these turtles will enjoy eating mollusks, snails, and crayfish, and will even attack small tadpoles. They also enjoy eating both aquatic insects and terrestrial insects that end up falling into their water, such as damselfly nymphs and dragonflies.

Every now and then, these turtles also like to eat plants, such as duckweed and Elodea species. Your pet turtle can also feast upon some fish that has been cut up into small pieces, as well as shrimp, earthworms, bloodworms, and crickets.

Common Musk Turtles make great pets, but because they can emit an offensive liquid and odor as a defense mechanism, and because they will sometimes try to bite you, you should be careful when you handle them.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Green Sea Turtles


A green sea turtle navigates the azure waters surrounding the Galápagos Islands.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Topsail Turtle Project - North Carolina














In 1996 a small group of dedicated volunteers with the Topsail Turtle Project stood on an empty lot in Topsail Beach.  The group shared a dream….   They had the opportunity to care for an injured sea turtle who came to be called Lucky.  Lucky was the sea turtle who pointed the way to the need for a place in North Carolina for sick and injured sea turtles, who required long term rehabilitation.  Lucky was cared for with lots of TLC and was able to be returned to the wild.  The question was where would other sick and injured sea turtles in need of medical attention go for treatment and care.  Thus the dream of a place on Topsail Island to provide that kind of sanctuary for sea turtles in need was born.

In 1996 the town of Topsail Beach generously offered to lease a small lot on Banks Channel to the group for such a facility.  The arrival of hurricanes Bertha and Fran put the plans on hold, but the dream lived on.  Finally in the spring of 1997 it appeared that plans could be put in motion again.

Three North Carolina sea turtles who had spent the winter at Sea World of Florida were due to arrive back in North Carolina in mid-june.  They would need a place to go for care and treatment.  Could the group handle it?  With a resounding “Yes!” plans accelerated and by June 19th an outdoor rehabilitation area was ready to receive Karen, Corey and the well known local favorite, Huffy.

As the summer of 1997 passed volunteers were busy caring for the injured sea turtles while monitoring the beach for nests each morning and making sure that baby sea turtles made it safely to the water each night.  Each day in the background were the beautiful songs of hammer and saw.  Construction had begun on the Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center.  The dream was a step nearer to reality.

Support for the project was overwhelming.  Donations were generous.  Local business did their part.  It was all coming together.  There were nail biting times to be sure, and days when everything seemed to go wrong.  But things kept moving forward.

We moved into our new 900 sq. ft. facility in October 1997,  where air and water temperatures are kept sea turtle warm.

Thanks to all those who have supported the building effort, and to those who continue to support the operating costs; and to the dedicated people who have worked so hard supplying and staffing the center. The dream has become a reality.

Rescue Center Mission Statement

  • The conservation and protection of all species of marine turtles both in the water and on the beach
  • The rescue, rehabilitation, and release of sick and injured sea turtles
  • To inform and educate the public regarding the plight of all sea turtles and the threat of their extinction
  • To provide an experiential learning site for students of biology, wildlife conservation, and/or veterinary medicine from around the world.


Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center
302 Tortuga Ln
Surf City, NC 28445
https://www.seaturtlehospital.org/

Thursday, March 22, 2018

My Cousin: The Loggerhead Turtle

Check this out! Young Loggerhead turtles have internal GPS systems. Amazing! They read the Earth's magnetic field to adjust the direction in which they swim. It seems they hatch with a set of directions, which, with the help of their magnetic sense, ensures that they always stay in warm waters during their first migration around the rim of the North Atlantic.

Over time they build a more detailed magnetic map by learning to recognize variations in the strength and direction of the magnetic field lines. It isn't known how the Loggerheads sense magnetism. Part of the problem is that magnetic fields can pass through biological tissues without being altered, so the sensors could, in theory, be located in any part of the body.  Many researchers think that magnetic receptors probably exist in the head of turtles and perhaps other animals. These might be based on crystals of magnetite, which align with the Earth's magnetic field and could pull on some kind of receptor as it changes polarity. The mineral has been found in some bacteria, and in the noses of fish like salmon and rainbow trout, which also seem to track the Earth's magnetic field as they migrate.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Cupcake

Don't call me 'cupcake' or I'll say "eat me!" Perhaps an idea for your sweet tooth for today's Irish holiday.

Monday, March 5, 2018

Say Hello to the South American Tortoise
























The largest tortoise on the mainland of South America, this tortoise is named after the large yellow or orange scales that cover the front of each forelimb. The elongated carapace, or upper shell, of the South American yellow-footed tortoise is brown, with yellowish or orange tones in the centre of each scute. The well developed shell on the underside of the tortoise, the plastron, is yellowish-brown, with darker coloring at the edges of the scutes. Thin, leathery, yellow to orange scales cover the head of the tortoise, and it has a slightly hooked upper jaw. Males of this species are generally larger than females, and can also be distinguished by their longer, thicker tails, more elongated carapace, and concave plastron. It is thought that the more elongated carapace of the male is better suited to moving through the dense understorey of the forest, while the shell of females is adapted to store eggs.

Threatened by hunting throughout its range, the South American yellow-footed tortoise is now considered to be vulnerable to extinction. Although it is generally not the primary target of hunters, Amazonian Indians always capture these slow-moving tortoises when out hunting for other animals.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Monday, February 19, 2018

Take an Expedition to the Galapagos Islands

You can visit and explore the unique landscapes, waters and species of the Galápagos Islands with National Geographic Expeditions. Learn more here.

READ MORE about traveling to the Galapagos Islands


Monday, February 12, 2018

Good Night Little Turtle

Check out "Good Night Little Turtle" children's book available on Amazon.




Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Common Turtle Diseases

















Common Turtle Diseases

To help pet owners, here's a quick overview of the diseases affecting turtles:


Deficiencies (vitamins): to be cured, vary your turtle's food and let them sunbathe!

Deficiency (calcium and UVB): a balanced diet will prevent calcium deficiencies. The lack of calcium or ultraviolet rays (direct contact with sunlight) makes the turtle amorphous and softens its shell (which is called a "toblerone shell").


TOBLERONE SHELL:

Constipation: caused by dry food, you must  bathe the turtle in warm water several times a day and give them high-fibre food. If nothing progresses, you can give them a little paraffin oil.

Diarrhea: the origins are different (intestinal parasite, thermatique shock, dietary imbalance) and this disorder may just be a phase if the turtle continues to feed and live normally.

Dehydration: To prevent it, the turtle should always have access to water. A turtle with sunken eyes and no urine is probably dehydrated.

VARIOUS DISEASES:

Anorexia: a sick turtle will tend not to eat. And anorexia is often the result of other diseases. Anorexia can also be caused by  stress due to a change of environment (new enclosure, death of a partner) or a food that does not fit them.

Pneumonia: only a vet can determine the cause of pneumonia, which can be viral, bacterial, parasitic ... It may be pneumonia if the turtle breathes loudly, if it is weak or anorexic.

Rhinitis causes nostrils flows - the turtle should be dewormed before being treated with antibiotics if rhinitique comes from mycoplasma.

Sepsis caused by an untreated infection that is spreading throughout the body. The turtle is then slaughtered with red spots observed on its members or its plastron.

Stomatitis: infection occurring in the oral cavity, usually out of hibernation or when the turtle is very weak. When the tongue is reached this is called glossitis, causing anorexia and salivation.

Abscess: localized collection of pus in the skin of the turtle necessarily leads to surgery.

Dermatitis humidity: terrarium turtles can suffer from excess of moisture which causes small blisters to appear on the skin or on the shell. Treat by applying betadine on the affected areas.

Retention of eggs: a female turtle too stressed or not finding a quiet place to dig does not lay her eggs. The turtle will be restless and often anorexic. Take her to a veterinarian.

PARASITES:

Ticks: as soon as you notice a tick, it should be soaked in ether and then extracted. It is recommended to apply an antiseptic lotion where the tick was sucking blood for several days.

Myiasis: they are caused by fly larvae settling under the skin which sometimes creates deep wounds. You need to call a vet.

Protozoa and worms: should be avoided with anti-worm treatment.

Friday, February 2, 2018

My Cousin: The Diamondback Terrapin

Can this guy get any more handsome? Look at his markings!

























The Diamondback terrapin (Malaclemys terrapin) was once almost pushed to extinction due to a fashion among some members of American society for turtle meat, a trend that thankfully died out before this terrapin did.

The Diamondback terrapin has an oblong upper shell (carapace) that is grey, light brown or black and patterned with concentric diamond-shapes. The shell on the underside of the terrapin (the plastron) can range in colour from yellowish to green or black, and may be decorated with bold, dark markings.

The grey or black skin of the limbs and head bears dark flecks and spots, the head is short and flat, and the prominent eyes are black. The large, webbed feet are adapted for swimming, but also bear strong claws that allow the terrapin to clamber up out of the water. Female diamondback terrapins are larger than the males, and have a broader head and shorter tail. Juveniles are patterned much like adults but usually brighter and have rounder shells.

The diamondback terrapin is native to the United States, where they can be found along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts from Cape Cod to Texas. The diamondback terrapin inhabits the brackish waters of coastal marshes, tidal flats, coves, estuaries and coastal lagoons.

The Diamondback terrapin is believed to be the only turtle in the world that lives exclusively in brackish water (containing some salt, but not as much as ocean water), habitats like tidal marshes, estuaries and lagoons. Most terrapins hibernate during the winter by burrowing into the mud of marshes.

Although not endangered, declines in population are a result of drowning in commercial crab pots and is the major threat to the Diamondback terrapin, while coastal development interrupts nesting beaches.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Turtle Temple

And now, for a moment of Zen at Fukusai-Ji-Zen Temple in Nagasaki, Japan: