My love affair with turtles started as young boy when every store with a small pet section was selling little turtles for a $1.25. My love affair with turtles started as young boy when every store with a small pet section was selling little turtles for a $1.25. I was not allowed to have one, because my mother said it was not right, like it was not right to buy chicks and ducklings and baby rabbits at Easter time. “They will grow up and they will not be so cute and you will not want them anymore and then you will not take good care of them and they will die”, she would say with requests to have such pets I remember running away from home when I was 12 years old and on my second day on the street I decided to steal a turtle to keep me company in my makeshift lean-to of branches on the slope of a railroad crossing embankment I was walking out of the store with the turtle in I thought hidden in my pocket, when a man I just knew was a store detective tapped me on my shoulder the little turtle had crawled out and climbed onto my shoulder for all to see and I was arrested. I did not get to keep that turtle, but the experience ended my 2 day adventure living in my lean-to, made of branches on the embankment.
As an adult I did get to have my pet turtle in fact I had two of them in a tank with my tropical fish. At first while they were small the fish were safe and the turtles contented themselves with pellet food, krill and dried shrimp that I fed them, but soon they were much bigger then my expensive tropical fish and they were hunting, killing and eating them. I took them to a pond and released them into the wild, but what I did not know was that it was a death sentence for them and they were easy prey for the gulls; the evidence of this was the two eyeless dead turtles I found on the bank of the pond the next year It was then I heard my mother’s voice again, saying, “They will grow up and they will not be so cute and you will not want them anymore and then you will not take good care of them and they will die.” A I would never again put something an animal into a cage, or an aquarium, just to give myself pleasure, because I realised that the animals could not be content in such small areas and that one day they would grow up and not be so cute and perhaps I would not take such good care of them and they could die and so I go to bird sanctuaries, eco parks, marshes, wetlands, forests and sometimes even stop on the side of the road and look at and experience things that should be in the wild actually in the wild and so in doing, being fair to the animal and doing my part to kill the demand for this type of pet.
I have seen turtles of one type or another in just about every park that and wildlife area I have been in For the most part they are on a river bank, or a log, or a rock sunning and are quick to scurry into the water if I get too close. As always when I get interested and I get enough pictures I decide to share and so here we go off into the wild and to the land of turtles in my many visits to a lot of different parks, sanctuaries and wetlands in Ontario as well as Quebec As I often say in my posts, I go out for the enjoyment of being outdoors with the wild creatures and sometimes I get lucky and get a great shot, but one thing is for sure I always learn something new, because in the wild nothing is ever the same and changes can happen in minutes. the exercise is good for you and if you get lucky you will get a picture that will give yo great pleasure for years to come that you could never get if you had not gone out for the walk.
I guess the first time I saw a group of turtles on a log in the middle of a pool of water was just inside the gate at Cooper Marsh. It was my first time at Cooper Marsh and I had no idea that I would be writing a blog about nature As I looked through the branches I saw them kind of all grouped together They were not very big, about one foot long and about eight inches across, but they were twice as big as the ones I had sent to their deaths after I tired of them as pets so many years ago The pictures of the turtles at Cooper Marsh are some of my earliest pictures of animals in the wild I have taken.
The next time I saw my turtles was while I was visiting the Rotary Club of Cornwall Eco Gardens (Conservation and Recreation Area). It was after an hour or so of shooting nature picture and near the dam that I saw the first turtle and then another and yet more still spread out on the rocks in the shallow water and climbing up the grassy slope of an embankment. Men women and children were all fishing around and on the dam. You know it is funny, I have never seen a turtle in the wild eat anything. The only time I have ever seen a turtle eat was in my aquarium when I was a child. I know this though that when they decide to move quickly they can be quite quick. My 2 turtles proved this when they attacked killed and ate my tropical fish that were sharing the tank. I had not done the proper research before putting the 2 creatures in the same tank and it was costly.
I have seen turtles in Quebec in the Park of Rapids and also in Nuns Island Bird Sanctuary as well. At first I guess I did not see them, because I was not looking for them and the turtles not moving very much would have done little to attract my attention I would have been more likely to be looking for a Great Blue Heron, a mink, or a muskrat, or something that at the very least moved. The most interesting grouping of turtles I have seen was on Nuns Island down by the water in the reedy shore across from where I was standing trying to get a shot of an adolescent Black Crowned Night Heron who blended into its environment so well that if not for all of the turtles I might have missed it. They looked like they had the young heron surrounded, but it was nothing bad they were just sharing space the real food and prey were the jumping fish that seemed to be in the shallows in abundance in the cove we were all in.
I have never been quite as thrilled as the one and only time I saw a turtle swimming in the shallow water of Cooper Marsh during a draw down He moved through the area with not a care in the world This giant turtle, a snapping turtle, I would learn later by comparison on Google would have no predators and he would be the threat to all creatures that ventured too close to him when he was hungry As this creature’s tail moved from side to side it looked like it was gliding effortlessly through the water There seemed to be a white substance following it, no surrounding it and I wondered if it was something it was responsible for putting in the water or if it was something natural in the water, or pollution I think that this turtle is a very large Common Snapping Turtle, but I have placed a video of this turtle siting at the bottom of the post for you to see and get a feeling of what was going through my mind and how I was feeling as I held my video camera and took this footage through the blind window at Cooper Marsh.
Did You Know these facts about turtles?
- The term turtle refers to anything living in a shell with a backbone.
- The first known turtles existed 200 million years ago.
- Turtles live on every continent except Antarctica.
- The blood of hibernating turtles acts somewhat like antifreeze, allowing it to tolerate cold temperatures.
- Incubation temperature determines the sex of the hatchling.
- All turtles lay their eggs on land.
- The smallest turtle, the Speckled Padloper is 4″. The largest is the Leatherback sea turtle that can reach up to 10′ in length.
- Not all turtles have hard shells For example; Soft-shell turtles and sea turtles have flexible shells.
- Turtle shells are built into their skeletons.
- Counting the growth rings on the scutes (scales) of the top shell does not tell the age of the turtle or tortoise.
- A group of turtles is called a bale.
- Turtles have good eyesight, seeing in full color and a strong sense of smell. They have excellent hearing and sense of touch. Their shells have feeling due to nerve endings.
- All turtles and tortoises do not have the same habitat and nutritional requirements Instead of teeth, turtles have a sharp beak for eating. Depending on species, the beak may be scissor-like, hook-like, or serrated.
- Several species, including the American Box turtle, can live to be over 100 years old.
Video is of a large snapping turtle I saw swimming while at Cooper Marsh.
In case you do not read comments I will share this video someone shared with me because I absolutely loved it!