My apologies for the iPhone pictures of inferior quality, since I hadn’t charged my camera; the past few weeks have been very quiet on the subject of turtles, because March started off warm, but then turned rather cold. As a result, most of the turtles went back into hibernation…or that’s what we’re guessing, at least. Even in an enclosed courtyard, we still aren’t sure where they spend most of their time!
One turtle that did recently return to the surface was Opportunity, a juvenile offspring of Pickle and Mr. Putty. He appeared on April 11. This is actually the first turtle that we’ve seen from the Pickle-Mr. Putty family group, since all of the others who have come out so far have either been adults without any offspring (Bloopy Beans and Megan Spots) or turtles that are descended from Boxy and Yedlin.
Now to be fair, Opportunity didn’t actually come above ground entirely; instead we found it sleeping under a board while taking temperatures in the courtyard. The board had been placed there to get a better idea of soil temperatures without interference from the sun. This turtle hadn’t been there previously, so it definitely dug its way to that spot, but why Opportunity chose to do this is a complete mystery. Another mystery is how Opportunity gained weight over the winter, since it shouldn’t have been eating. Maybe it was drinking water? This is one of the many things we still need to figure out.
In other news, we have released Cutie into a protected area, where she can burrow down in the cold and come out when it’s sunny. When I checked in on her today, she really looked great! Not bad for a turtle who nearly drowned two months ago. To be safe, I made sure she didn’t eat for a week before going outside, because turtles at these temperatures do better on empty stomachs. Since turtles do not regulate their body temperature (they are what we’d call ectothermic, or “cold blooded”), they are unable to digest food when it gets too cool. As a result, food that is in a cold turtle’s stomach can start to rot, which causes all sorts of problems, even death. Thankfully, all of that food Cutie has eaten over the past two months must have cleared out of her system, because she is behaving exactly as a turtle should. Once it really starts getting warm, and if she continues to look healthy, we will release her back with the other turtles–hopefully with a tracking beacon so we’ll always know where she is. Stay tuned to see how our turtle tracking project develops!