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Migrant Turtle

The annual migration of the box turtles has begun. They cross the country roads without fear for their lives until a vehicle shoots past them. If they're lucky, the driver misses them; sometimes they're unlucky. At times I've stopped to move the vagabond to the side of the road and safety, but only if it's safe for me to do so. Never on the highway, of course. I just hope those are lucky turtles.

(Once upon a time in Illinois I considered moving a snapping turtle to safety. I decided real fast that he could take his chances!)

I passed a Three-Toed Box Turtle on our dirt road just before I reached home last night. I drove on home to get my camera and walked back to help him to the side of the road, but he'd just about reached it without my help.

He was a good-sized one, as box turtles go. (Here's a great link on box turtles. Please ignore the references to evolution.)

Slowly I moved closer so that I could get a close-up shot without scaring him. He never moved. I felt fortunate that he didn't close up his shell.

As I moved to the other side, I realized that the reason I hadn't scared him yet was because his eye has been injured and he probably couldn't see me, even though he sensed my presence. The photo above shows his good eye, and the one below shows the injured eye.

But on this other side he could see me, and he decided I was too close. He drew in his head and legs and began closing his shell.

Box turtles have a hinged under-shell. They pull in their limbs and head like other tortoises do, but then the shell closes up too and protects the occupant inside.

You can see here how the bottom and top shell meet. I can't believe that I picked it up, took close-ups, and didn't get a shot of the hinge. Ah well. I set him down well off the road and wished him luck.


1 comment

  1. Anonymous6:15 PM

    That's very interesting. :) I have always liked turtles, but had no idea they migrated. Here about this time of year we find many turtles crossing the streets - and do help to get them out of the way too! :)

    The Lord's creation is wonderful, and we love to enjoy these little blessings He gives.

    In Him;


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