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]