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!!

Saturday, June 23, 2018

My Cousin: The Rio Grande Cooter

I envy the carapace (shell) of the Rio Grande Cooter which is a colorful oval and elongated, flattened, with a slight keel (highest in middle). This fella has tooth-like cusps and webbed feet. Males have longer fingernails on forelimbs than females. The carapace is olive with blotches of alternating yellow and black. Scutes have four distinct bulls-eyes with black and yellow rings. His belly (plastron) is yellow with pigment along seams, which fade with age.

Skin is brown or olive with yellow stripes on neck, legs and tail. Wide yellow stripe down middle of head and neck. Carapace reaches lengths of approx 9.5 inches as adults (females larger than males).

Found along the Rio Grande and Pecos River drainages in Texas and southern New Mexico. Isolated populations have been found in several northern states in Mexico. The Rio Grande cooter is found in clear pools in New Mexico, but can be found in clear to muddy streams in Texas.

Not much is known about the diet of this species, but preliminary results indicate that it may be primarily a vegetarian. Sadly, the Rio Grande cooter is not a protected species in Texas and can be legally collected with a hunting license.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

My Cousin: The Leopard Tortoise

 The Leopard tortoise is a large and attractively marked tortoise found in the savannas of eastern and southern Africa, from Sudan to the southern Cape. This chelonian is a grazing species of tortoise that favors semi-arid, thorny to grassland habitats, although some leopard tortoises have been found in rainier areas. In both very hot and very cold weather they may dwell in abandoned fox, jackal, or anteater holes. Leopard tortoises do not dig other than to make nests in which to lay eggs. It grazes extensively upon mixed grasses as well as succulents and thistles, and (in captivity) the fruit and pads of the prickly pear cactus. The African Leopard Tortoise typically lives 80 to 100 years.

The leopard tortoise is the fourth largest species of tortoise in the world, with typical adults reaching 18-inch and weighing 40-pound An adult's maximum shell length can reach 24-inches in diameter. The giant Ethiopian form might reach 39-in in rare cases. Also, in much rarer cases in countries such as Sudan with their high humidity rainforests this type of tortoise can reach up to lengths of 45 inches.



All tucked in!

It is a large and attractively marked tortoise. The carapace is high and domed, and pyramid shaped scutes are not uncommon. The skin and background color is cream to yellow, and the carapace is marked with black blotches, spots or even dashes or stripes. Each individual is marked uniquely.


Leopard tortoises are herbivorous. They are more defensive than offensive, retracting feet and head into their shell for protection. This often results in a hissing sound, probably due to the squeezing of air from the lungs as the limbs and head are retracted.


This is the most widely distributed tortoise in Southern Africa. Leopard tortoises are increasingly being bred in captivity. This is a positive development, as it should lead to a gradual reduction in demand for animals caught in the wild.

Monday, May 28, 2018

Turtle Sea Bracelet

The beautiful Turtle Sea Bracelet is available at Divinity LA, at this link.

Friday, May 11, 2018

What Do Turtles Eat?

There are several types of turtles you could own as a pet, including aquatic turtles such as the red-eared slider, box turtles and tortoises. Each of these turtles has different dietary needs and preferences, so the first step in keeping it healthy is to have it identified by an experienced veterinarian.



Foods for Pet Turtles
Depending on the species, turtles can be herbivores (eating only plants), carnivores (eating only meat) or omnivores (eating both plants and meat). Pet stores offer a range of turtle food products in pellets, sticks and chunks, formulated for different types of turtles and providing balanced nutrition with appropriate vitamins and minerals to keep the turtles healthy. However, this type of bland food is not the only thing turtles can eat, and it can be healthier and less expensive to offer turtles a range of fresh foods.

Foods popular for pet turtles, depending on the species, include:
Protein: Boiled eggs, mealworms, snails, crickets, earthworms
Vegetables: Corn, beans, beets, carrots, peas, squash, yams
Greens: Carrot tops, lettuce, collard greens, kale, spinach
Fruits: Apples, grapes, strawberries, cantaloupe, banana, kiwi, mango, tomato
Flowers: Geraniums, dandelions, petunias, lilies, carnations

In addition to a range of foods and pet store supplements, offering pet turtles an additional source of calcium - necessary for a strong, healthy shell - is also a good idea. Crushed eggshells, oyster shells and cuttlebone are all fantastic calcium sources that you can add to your turtle's diet on a regular basis.

Pet Turtle Feeding Tips
The best diet for a pet turtle is one that is fresh and varied to provide a range of nutritional sources. Just like humans, turtles have individual tastes, and offering different foods will help keep the turtle well fed and happy. More tips for feeding pet turtles include:

Avoid offering turtles any dairy products such as milk, yogurt or cheese. They cannot digest dairy, and it will cause illness.
Offer protein sources only every two to three days to avoid too much protein in the turtle's diet.
Avoid raw meat or hamburger as it may become tainted and rotten before the turtle eats it.
Offer foods in small pieces that are easier for the turtle to eat. Turtles do not have teeth and use their jaws to cut food into bite-sized pieces.
Fresh foods are best; do not leave food in a turtle's tank or cage where it can mold or rot. Always clean the food dish before adding another serving.

Turtles in the Wild
Turtles who live in the wild are like most other reptiles - they eat whatever they come across. A turtle's diet ranges depending on regional factors and whatever it has access to within its habitat. Aquatic turtles and land turtles have different diets.

Aquatic Turtle Diet
Aquatic turtles, such as soft shell turtles, eat mostly protein which can be found in the water. These proteins may consist of:

  • Fish
  • Crickets
  • Spiders
  • Snails
  • Crayfish
  • Larger aquatic turtles, such as snapping turtles, may eat ducks or other birds who are resting on the water's surface.


Land Turtle Diet
Land turtles, such as desert tortoises, are usually herbivores, eating vegetation they come across in their region. Foods they may eat include:

  • Grass
  • Leaves
  • Wildflowers
  • Cacti and cactus pears
  • Fruits, such as blueberries, palmetto berries, and raspberries
  • Feeding Your Turtle a Healthy Diet


Pet turtles can eat a wide range of foods, from small insects to fruits and vegetables to flowers. Therefore, owners need to offer a widely varied, balanced diet to keep a pet turtle healthy and happy. By choosing different foods and feeding the turtle well, including adding pet store supplements to ensure enough vitamins and minerals, a pet turtle can live a long and well-fed life.

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Maldivian Sea Turtle Conservation Program

The Maldivian Sea Turtle Conservation Program helps protect the species by rescuing, caring for and releasing these beautiful creatures back into nature. Learn more about the program by clicking here.


Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Meet Henry, the Colorado Dog

Enjoy Henry the Colorado Dog and his best friend, Baloo, on Instagram. They love each other and get to travel with humans.

CLICK HERE to visit Henry and Baloo's Instagram page

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 12, 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.