Lou came inside the other day and announced we had a visitor...a box turtle!I had not seen a box turtle in our garden for a couple of years, so I grabbed my camera and went outside. The box turtle was nestled against our walkway by the patio, with his head poking up out of pine straw. I wanted a photo, but I wanted one with a clear view; so I sat down on the walkway and carefully removed most of the pine straw, whereupon he pulled his head into his shell.
Box turtles are North American natives, land dwelling members of the American pond turtle family. They protect themselves by hiding, by biting (as my son Josh once discovered!) and by tightly closing up their shells. My visitor pulled his head in but did not close his shell, so I was optimistic he might relax if I stayed very still. I lay down on the walkway so my head was not too far from the turtle and waited. In less than five minutes I was rewarded when his head began to cautiously emerge, little by little. Soon we were eye to eye with each other.
I was impressed with his nostrils. I also noted his red eyes. Red eyes indicate the turtle is probably a male, whereas females have yellow brown eyes. I have no idea what he thought of me, but he looked me over for about ten minutes. I shot a bunch of photos of his face; I do believe he was posing for me! Then I slowly adjusted my position to shoot some side views.This turtle has been around a while, and he has had at least one close call.
Deep scratches and bite marks are symmetrically placed on both sides of his shell. Was it a raccoon? Or a dog? One thing for sure, he is fortunate to have that tough shell for protection! Young turtles with softer shells often fall victim to predators, but once they reach adulthood, they can live a long time. The average life span of an adult box turtle is fifty years, and it is not uncommon for them to live longer than 100 years! With lots of wear on his shell and a mature countenance, this turtle is no spring chicken! I would not be surprised if he has been around as long as I have.
After a while, the box turtle decided to move along.