Sunday, April 29, 2012

My Cousin: The Bowsprit Turtle

The Bowsprit tortoise (Chersina angulata), also known as the Angulate tortoise or Rooipens, is a species of tortoise found in dry areas and scrub forest in South Africa.

A small, shy tortoise with a relatively variable shell. They can often be distinguished by their prominent "bowsprits", which are protrusions from their lower carapace under their chins. These are used by males to fight for territory or females.
Their natural habitat is the coastal scrub vegetation of the south-western part of South Africa. This natural range extends across the Cape Region, as far north as the southern part of Namibia. There is also a colony on Dassen Island, off the South African coast.

The Bowsprit tortoise is commonly kept as a garden pet in South Africa. It is also increasingly threatened by illegal collecting for the pet trade. Outside of their natural range and climate they do not usually survive well, so when exported overseas, these pets usually die. This is partly because they are adapted to the warm, dry, Mediterranean-type climate of South Africa. They also naturally eat a wide range of indigenous South African plants and, if kept in a garden, they require a similarly wide range of plants available to feed on. They will not stay healthy if fed only on lettuce.

This tortoise, like most reptiles, also needs to be able to regulate its own temperature, by moving between sunny and shady spots. If kept as a pet, it therefore needs a large garden where it can both warm itself in natural sunlight, as well as seek shade when necessary. It needs a dry habitat, as constant moisture is particularly bad for it.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Thursday, April 19, 2012

I Share

When it comes to chow time, I'll share with anyone who is hungry. Because I'm slow, that's why. (...and because I'm generous... and because it's the cat's food anyway...)

*Note this photo was "borrowed" from the web and is not Henry.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Turtle Rock

Somewhere on the side of the road in Turkey, you can see this unusual but familiar rock formation. Do you see what I see?

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Friday, April 13, 2012

Not My Cousin: The Scariest Turtle on the Planet!

And for Friday the 13th, we have:

This frightening fella is the Alligator Snapping Turtle and the largest (and scariest) turtle that lives in fresh water in North America, and is also one of the largest turtles in the world. Looking like a prehistoric sea monster, it boasts a spiked shell, a jaw that reminds you of a birds beak, thick scaly tale and if you didn’t know better you would believe you were looking at a dinosaur.

You will find Alligator snapping turtles nearly always in rivers, canals and lakes, particularly in the Southern part of the United states, mostly the eastern side, they can and have lived to be nearly 100 years old. The males average about 2 and a half feet in shell length, and usually weigh about 150-175 although they have been known to grow to weigh more than 225 pounds. The (demure) females are much smaller, usually weighing only about 50 pounds.

Alligator snapping turtles use a unique means of hunting for prey.  They have a tongue that is worm shaped and very bright red. When lying without any movement on the bottom of a river or lake, they will flick the tongue and draw in curious fish or frogs to see what manner or worm or food this is, at which time they snatch the prey from the water.

As adults, the Alligator snapper has no real natural predator aside from human beings, who often take them for the meat (to make turtle soup) and the shell for adornments. They are also sold at times to exotic animal collectors. They are stable but because of unregulated harvesting and sales of the Alligator snapper, and habitat loss due to humans encroachment on their turf, they are protected in most states, and in nearly all areas where they live or range.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

In the 'Zona

This Arizona turtle enjoys copious quantities of cactus. Go for it!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Friday, April 6, 2012

Bronze Beauty in Belgium

"Searching for Utopia" on Nieuwepoort Beach, Belgium
by Jan Fabre, Belgian artist

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Turtle Kiev

These conjoined tortoises are on exhibit in Kiev, Ukraine. A bit of a spectacle, I imagine. I bet these poor fellas don't get very far.

Thank you, Jim.