Monday, April 23, 2012

A to Z Honesty - T is for Turtles

This was the BEST thing we did on the weekend. We saved turtles!
Teeny tiny newborn Painted Turtles, no bigger than a loonie. Or maybe
even a quarter. Isn't this little guy the cutest thing ever? Look at him looking
at the camera with his teeny tiny eyes and his teeny tiny tail. So cute!

We live next to the Muskoka River (thus the blog title - I know, I'm so original)
and thus are privy to plenty of animal comings and goings. But last summer we
were treated to the sight of this mama turtle laying her eggs under neath our mailbox.
If you look close you can see her face on the left - she's hiding in the grass. Can you blame
her? Wouldn't you hide if you were giving birth under our mailbox?

And there's Mommy again, under the mailbox. (Yes, I painted
the mailbox. Because I am an artist. LOL) So these two photos
were taken last June. We waited a long time to see babies and
eventually forgot all about Mama Turtle and her mailbox eggs.

And then! On Saturday! We were outside getting some fresh air when Dave
noticed a baby turtle had been run over by a car. Just a wee tiny baby, flattened
in the middle of our road. We felt terrible. "Let's look around for more," Dave
said, because Dave, who is a walking-talking Nature Guide, said there likely would be.
Well, it wasn't any longer than a minute that we saw a turtle hiding in the brown
grass next to the road. And another turtle. Five in total, all doing their best to
be incognito as they headed for the road. Looking for them was like looking for
mud-coloured Easter eggs. "Turtles," I implored, "why do you want to
go across the road when there's a river on THIS side of the road? Why, turtles?
Why?" The turtles had no answer. They just hung out in our plastic bowl,
looking incredibly cute.

Sam and Dave wanted to keep the turtles as pets. Uh oh, I thought, envisioning
a smelly turtle tank in our house. "They're wild animals," I said, appealing to their
love of nature. "They don't want to be cooped up in our house. They want to be in the river,
free." I started singing "Born Free, as free as the wind blows." Even the teeny tiny
baby turtles covered their teeny tiny turtle ears. I found the Kawartha Turtle Trauma Centre
online and I gave them a call. The woman I spoke with was really, really nice. I told her
about our baby turtles and wondered what we should do – just plunk them in the river or
place them on a log? I didn't ask about keeping them as pets because I knew that was
just plain wrong.

She said to place them on the shore and wait for them to crawl into the river.
Dave, who likes things to be organized, lined them all up like they were
going to be in a Great Race. I think he must have liked Hot Wheels as a kid.
Look how cute those baby turtles are! I am in love with their cuteness.

There's always one keener in every crowd. This was him. First one to leave
the starting line, first one to run to the water, first one in.

He wasted no time getting into the water and in a matter of minutes he had
swum so far out that we lost track of him. Most of the other turtles followed suit.
There were a couple of slow pokes but even they eventually swam away.
Now that they're gone I miss them terribly. I know you shouldn't keep
wild animals as pets and I never would – but seriously? Aren't these fellahs
just adorable?

69 comments:

  1. That was a special moment for the kids. They will probably remember that for the rest of their lives.

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    1. I hope so! I know I will – until dementia sets in. Which could be tomorrow...

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  2. Hi, Cathy!

    I adore turtles! I grew up in the country so I had the opportunity to see lots of turtles!

    Looks like everyone had a great time!

    http://bettyalark.blogspot.com

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    1. Hey Betty! We did - it was just an awesome, awesome adventure.

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  3. Aww. Reminds me of when I found a turtle by my mailbox two summers ago. :) You did the right thing in helping them out in this world!

    -Barb the French Bean

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    1. What is it with turtles and mailboxes anyway???? I wonder if they lay eggs by the Fed Ex depot... but maybe it costs extra.

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  4. Silly turtles. Playing chicken like that.

    But I got the greatest idea from this: Teenage Mutant Ninja Hot Wheels!

    And then I realized it's already been done. They called it Transformers....

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  5. I gotta say, I miss Canada. I'm following your blog now, and look forward to more pictures of "home".

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    1. Awww.. I love that you miss Canada... but do you really miss snow? And icy roads? Really, really???

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  6. Awww, the cuteness! Did the rest of the eggs hatch?

    karen

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    1. We've been checking every day, Karen, but so far we haven't seen any more.

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  7. It's always a nice dream, for about five minutes, to imagine all kinds of wildlife living in the house with me. Those are the cutest, all lined up like that.

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    1. Yup, Carrie, me too... usually the dream turns into a nightmare when I start thinking about all that animal poo....

      I know! Isn't the lined-up picture the best? See, I wouldn't have thought of lining them up... only my husband would. Just another reason I love him to pieces.

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  8. Were they really hatching from egs laid last year? I must get out my Funk and Wagnalls. This is a mystery to me.

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    1. They hatch in the fall but come out of the ground in spring. According to The Science of Algonquin Park's animals (http://www.sbaa.ca/projects.asp?cn=316) this happens:
      Did you know?

      Even though Painted Turtles hatch from their egg in September, the turtle hatchlings do not emerge from the nest until the following spring. Baby Painted Turtles do not head to the water and spend the winter at the bottom of ponds as other young turtles do. Instead, they "freeze solid" withstanding temperatures as cold as -10°C under the layer of sand and snow. A special protein produced by the turtle's liver allows ice crystal to develop in a uniform manner within the baby turtle's body. They also produce natural antifreeze that prevents the cells from freezing and becoming damaged. Thus, only the water out outside of the cells is actually frozen.
      While in this frozen state baby turtles show no sign of muscle movement, no heartbeat, and no blood flow. This ability to tolerate freezing is only possible for the first winter. In all other winters, these young turtles will have to find refuge from the cold winter temperatures with all other Painted Turtles in the mud at the bottom of Algonquin's many ponds. When the warmer temperatures of spring arrive, young turtles head to the surface, unaffected by their previously frozen state, and head to the water.

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    2. Cath that is amazing! Learn something new everday.

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  9. My friend Lisa (Diary of a Square Toothed Girl) and I were talking yesterday and she was telling me how you are one of her all-time favorites! I agree!

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    1. She said that??? (Lisa must have gotten my cheque... hope it doesn't bounce!)
      Awww, thanks Judy! That is enormously sweet of you to say!

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    2. So were you guys friends before you started blogging or did you become friends after?

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  10. They are so cute! My husband is always stopping to save turtles (big ones!) crossing the road. I always wanted to bring one of them home but we knew that wasn't the best idea. So, we got our tortoises from a reputable reptile place (say that three times fast!) :)

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    1. Nuh-uh, Madeline - my tongue is twisted reading that to myself!
      We rescue big ones, too. Even the snapping turtles, which is always a bit of a challenge! You know what I hate? People who will SWERVE to run over a snapping turtle. I've seen it happen. Makes me want to track 'em down and swerve to run over THEM. Every living creature deserves a chance at life and those who say snappers are vicious are just badly informed. I have never heard of a snapping turtle attacking a human being. All those stories are myths. Which doesn't mean that snappers don't freak me out, because they do! But I would never harm one.

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  11. Love those pictures - hope they make it....

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  12. Those tiny turtles are so cute that I'm not even bothered by the fact that I have no idea what a loonie is. ;)

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    1. JOHANNA!!!!! For some reason stoopid Blogger has been putting your wonderful comments in the dreaded spam box!!! I just discovered it this morning so big apologies to you. You were probably wondering what the heck was happening to your comments! so, so, sorry! What clued me in was this comment - I remember seeing it in my e-mail inbox and laughing and looked for it amongst the comments here so I could tell you what a loonie is! And couldn't find it. *shaking my fist at Blogger*

      So anyway, a loonie is a one dollar Canadian coin. It has a loon on the front and because of that it's been nicknamed a loonie. (A loon being a waterbird, not a crazy guy!)

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  13. Replies
    1. Aren't they, Jaycee? So cute i just want to pinch their teeny tiny little cheeks.

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  14. Hmmm...wonder how many of them will return to your mail box to lay eggs next year.

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    1. Not next year, Joanne! Painted turtles take a long, long time to be parents. Here's another quote from the Algonquin website:
      Sexual maturity in Painted Turtles is very slow; 7-9 years for males, 11-16 years or more for females.

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  15. I always wonder how they know where to go. Out here you see them trying to cross the highway all the time, but I don't think they ever make it across before a truck hits them. I was watching a turtle cross my drive so I wouldn't find him under a wheel. It must have taken an hour or more. No, I have nothing better to do. :)

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    1. Lucky you. What I'd give to be able to watch a turtle all day.

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  16. I was so heartbroken when you mentioned the one turtle that had gotten run over by the car. I know, it's part of the circle of life, yada, yada, ya...but it was a baby turtle, lost, maybe it's teeny, tiny, turtle compass was all jacked up and he/she went the wrong way, their siblings close behind.

    So I'm glad you guys rescued the darlings before they all became flat turtle pancakses on the road. What a beautiful way for your guys to make the most of Earth Day as well :-)

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    1. Wait, I think Earth Day was officially Sunday but it was the same weekend so Huzzah for you!

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    2. Awww, what a great comment, Angela (er, comments!!) I didn't even make the Earth Day connection - see? That's why you're smarter than me.

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  17. Good for you! You saved five turtles this weekend.

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  18. I just about died over how tiny they were. Baby turtles! So sad you had to put them in the river (necessary, yes, but they look so helpless!).

    Thanks so much for stopping by my blog - it's great to meet you!

    Jessica
    A to Z Blogger & SF/Fantasy Writer @ Visions of Other Worlds

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    1. I felt the same way, Jessica! But if it's any consolation we put them into a quiet part of the river, blocked off from big fish and other swimming predators. It's not perfect, but it's better than just flinging them into the main flow!
      It was great to meet you, too! Thanks for the follow and the nice comment!

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  19. One night when I was a kid, we were driving through Texas, and we came across some kind of frog migration. There were hundreds (probably thousands) going across the highway, and so many of them had been run over. I made my parents stop the car, and my dad got out and looked, but there were so many, they wouldn't wait or do anything, and we just drove on. It was very traumatic for me.

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    1. OMG, Andrew, you poor, poor thing. I can imagine it was horrible... I've seen nights like that myself. It's terrible.

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  20. Replies
    1. Aren't they adorable? Thanks for the follow, Dana! You're cute, too!

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  21. Such a nice nature story and a great way to spend Earth Day weekend!

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    1. Erm, yes Sue, we, erm, planned it that way... lol!

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  22. Turtles are cool. Bebbeh turtles are even better! I'm glad you helped them.

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    1. OH Daisy! I forgot to mention this - my son was in the house hanging out on the couch so I put the plastic bowl with turtles in it on the coffee table for him to look at. Then I got distracted because we had company arrive unexpectedly. When I came back in the house a while later, the bowl was upside down on the floor and the turtles were all over the place - my son had gone elsewhere leaving our kitty-cats to knock the bowl over! Luckily no one was hurt!

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  23. What an amazing story. I loved the pictures as well. Mega thanks.

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    1. Thank YOU, EC! Yeah, it was pretty amazing.

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  24. Those turtles are treated so bad in Mexico. I owned two but I actually took care of them right--and they need a lot of work to care for them. I feel sorry for the little guys down here.

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    1. Really? They're mistreated in Mexico? Awwww.... how could anyone mistreat something so absolutely adorable? I'm glad you're looking out for them, Clarissa.

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  25. Replies
    1. I know, right? Little koochie-koo sweetie-bumpkins...

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  26. I am completely freaked out by turtles. (I know, weird... comes from a bad run in with a bunch of snappers as a kid) But those are so frickin' cute I would ALMOST let one of the boys take one in as a pet.

    Almost.

    Maybe.

    Well, no. But seriously, that's the closest I've ever gotten to even thinking about it.

    AND... I love your mailbox. I look at 600 a day, the hand painted ones are the best. :)

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    1. You love my mailbox!!! (Dancing around)
      I have to admit, seeing full grown snapping turtles in the river has cured me of wanting to swim there - they're just so big and gnarly looking. They freak me out, too.

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  27. Awe, they are so cute! What a great way to spend the weekend! Kudos! :-)

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  28. So adorable. I miss my turtle so much!! I got him when I was pregnant with my youngest and he was just smaller than a silver dollar. He wasn't a wild animal but I know the feeling of wanting to keep the wildlife! What a great example you set for your boys to call the experts and follow the advice!

    And by the by, turtle tanks are so very stinky and require so much maintenance!

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  29. I'm so glad you found them and they're safe and free. Cute little buggers. I would've hated to see them go too.

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    1. Thanks Austan! (I love the expression "cute little buggers")

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  30. So darn cute! Love little turtles. I actually have 2 (one that lives with me now) that I got when they were about that size it looks like. Preston was my P post for the challenge. I do feel bad they didn't get to be real turtles out in the wild but they're not the brightest of the batch so I'm glad they're here.

    Thanks for sharing the little turtle rescue!

    Anna@Herding Cats & Burning Soup

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    1. Preston! What a great name for a wee turtle! Must go over and read about Preston!

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  31. It's almost my bed time and I suddenly remembered I hadn't visited your blog today and that T was for Turtles. Well, there was no way I was gonna miss this one. This was just the most gorgeous post, such tiny weeny darlings, and saved by you and yours. Loved the photo's. Now I can go to bed with a happy smile on my face - which I hasten to add I always have when I've visited here. ^__^

    Now everyone sing with me ♩ •♬♪ •♭·.·
    I had a little turtle ♩ •♬♪ •♭·.·And he lived in a box. He swam in the water♩.*•♫♪And he climbed on the rocks.♩.*•♫♪ next verse .....

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  32. Wonderful post. Loved reading about the story. Glad you found the others before they also got squashed.

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  33. Oh my goodness, that's amazing!! Thanks for sharing those adorable photos with us.

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  34. Great Work. Turtles are really at-risk when it comes to crossing roads and hatching. That is why turtles are in decline in so many areas. Thanks for caring! Check out the START Muskoka Turtle Project on Facebook. They are part of Scales Nature Park in Orillia who do much the same thing! https://www.facebook.com/SavingTurtlesatRiskToday

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