Sunday, May 19, 2013

Poor Turtle!

When I first spied this turtle on a pondside path at Woods Hollow Nature Preserve today, I felt quite excited.  Wow!  A Map Turtle!  I see Painteds and Snappers frequently, but I've only ever glimpsed a Map Turtle for a fleeting second a few years ago as it slipped off a log into the Hudson River.  But my excitement soon turned to sadness, for this turtle was dead.  Oh dear!

Oh well, at least I was able to get a really good look at the poor creature.  The yellow stripes on the dark-olive skin are typical, as are the large patches of yellow behind the eyes.  Not so evident in my photo is a raised ridge down the center of the shell, which is also diagnostic for Map Turtles.  The map-like lines on its shell that inspired this turtle's common name are unfortunately obscured by a whitish film.

The turtle's underside was quite colorful, with black paintbrush swatches on rosy-pink plates trimmed with yellow.

I don't have any idea what might have killed this turtle.  It also seemed odd to find it in the middle of a path.  Any theories?

Update:  Be sure to check the comments to this post to read several opinions about the fate of this turtle.  Note that one reader believes this to be a Red-eared Slider, not a Map Turtle, and after looking at images on the internet which showed the distinctive rosy underside spotted with black as typical of the Red-ear, I have to agree.  Thank you, dear readers, for all your contributions.


Anonymous said...

Map turtles are usually found in larger bodies of water (big lakes and rivers.) However, this is laying season so the turtle may have wandered a long distance to lay her eggs. She may have become exhausted and disoriented. Or, this may have been someone's pet which became ill or was no longer wanted so they let it go at the nature preserve. In this case, its chances of survival would be poor.

Anonymous said...

P.S. I would be curious if anyone else has ever seen a map turtle in this pond. I note that your first sighting of a map turtle was at the Hudson River, which would be right for its usual habitat. Except for egg-laying, this turtle is never a land wanderer, staying otherwise always in larger bodies of water. Thus, I think the released pet theory may be the right one.

Jacqueline Donnelly said...

Thanks, Anonymous, for this information about the Map Turtle. I am delighted when knowledgeable folks like you share what you know about animals and plants that appear in my posts. Thanks for taking the time to comment.

Anonymous said...

You are welcome. Years ago, as a young girl, I fell in love with turtles. Throughout my teens and early twenties, I had as many as 14 varieties in assorted aquariums. I took pretty good care of them but still, it wasn't much of a life for the turtles. That white stuff you noticed on the turtle's shell was probably SCUD, Septicemic Cutaneous Ulcerative Disease, a disease common to aquatic turtles in captivity. It can be treated if one knows what one is doing. It looks like this poor turtle's keeper didn't know what to do. I no longer keep turtles but choose now to admire them from afar. Unfortunately, turtles are still bought and sold to collecters through online sites. Many are taken from the wild. Turtles are much harder to keep healthy than one might think. Folks should stick to dogs, in my opinion, as I now do. Let's leave the turtles in peace.

Anonymous said...

That's actually a Red-eared Slider (Trachemys scripta) - not native to the region and undoubtedly a released pet.