Thursday, June 22, 2006

This thing can bite off your finger.

It's a snapping turtle - they're quite aggressive and fairly common around here. They are frequent roadkill, like big squashed nuts.
I was walking one of the dogs last week and came across one about to cross the street. (Why did the turtle cross the road? To get to the Shell station. Har har.) It was well over a foot long, looked exactly like the one in the photo. The tail is really muscular and spiky, you can't get them by the tail. Anyhow, they can actually jump, they'll turn and leap at you if you mess with the south end. And I'm pretty sure a large-ish one could take off a finger.
How you move them - should you want to - is get a sturdy stick and wave it in its face. The turtle will lunge and grab the stick and usually hold on so you can drag it.
Huh. I just read through the Wikipedia link, check this out:

Strangely enough, the Common Snapping Turtle, when raised in captivity from a hatchling, can sometimes become extremely docile and devoted to its owner. It may show signs of intelligence in recognizing individual people and will seek out those it prefers to be around. Some can be taught to obey simple commands with enough patience....


Blogger Karen said...

we have lots of 'em here; they come outa the wetland that spans the back of our land. hubby has moved some off the road by pickin' 'em up with a shovel.

have a great weekend! :-)

8:46 PM  
Anonymous jan said...

Yeh, but how much exercise can you get from taking one for a walk?

9:07 PM  
Blogger threecollie said...

Our son was just telling the story of his teacher's father's fishing trip. The man waded out in a lake and stood on a submerged "rock" to fish. He stood there peacefully for a few minutes, casting his line, when suddenly the "rock" walked away under water with him standing one it. It was a big snapper that had been resting on the bottom.

9:26 PM  
Blogger Carina said...

Karen - you too! I live near the Flint River and have seen several along the banks.

Jan - ha! A perfect pet for a couch potato type. You wouldn't get into agility - can you imagine an agility turtle?

Threecollie, that would make me think twice about going in freshwater around here, I thought of that. Just seeing it snap onto the branch and hold on was unnerving.

9:37 PM  
Blogger Ricardo said...

Yeah I hear those are nasty. As far as intelligence, if my fish get excited when I come around and go nuts when they see food for them in my hand, why not the turtle?

10:21 PM  
Blogger Carina said...

True - you have Bettas too, right?
Is responding to food stimuli really intelligence, or Pavlovian response?
I dunno. I think having a pet snapping turtle has a cachet that fish might lack....I wonder what the local hoods would think if I was walking a large snapping turtle instead of a couple of Rottweilers!

11:59 PM  
Anonymous Leigh-Ann said...

I had a goldfish who recognized the sound of my voice, and I guess he associated it with food. He'd get excited if I called his name :)

Not much turtle experience, here... I'm in the land of the desert tortoise, but I've never seen one in the wild.

2:38 AM  
Blogger Tabor said...

Remember, this is wikipedia...a nice but not necessarily authoritative source. I don't know if you want one as a pet. I once visited a snapping turtle farm in Japan.

1:42 PM  
Blogger Junebugg said...

The folk lore around here says that if a Snapper bites you it won't let go until it hears thunder. Don't know where that one came from........

2:05 AM  
Blogger Ricardo said...

I have betta, some guppies, red eye tetras, lemon tetras, algae eaters and a pair of neons. Lots of fish, I know. but they show different levels of excitement. They're wiggly when they see me and spastic is the see the food container in my hand. Other times they just sit there looking at me watching TV. The snapping turtle has an advantage because I could train it to attack intruders. Or could I? Rottweilers are fun but the snapping turtle still has the advantage in terms of sparking conversation. At least more conversation that the dogs if you're walking around with one (a snapping turtle) on a leash.

2:57 AM  
Blogger Carina said...

Leigh-Ann, ) think my goldfish (in a barrel outside) know me. They used to disappear when I approached, now they come to the surface. I keep forgetting to ask a friend to approach the barrel, to see if they actually recognise me, or if they'll come up for just anyone!

Tabor - true, now that I think of it I've seen warnings not to use Wikipedia as a definitive source. Snapping turtle farm??

Junebugg, you Southerners are a funny lot! :) Never heard that one.

LOL Ricardo, I can just see walking a big snapper on a leash around here. Or even a brace of them.

8:34 AM  
Blogger Behind Blue Eyes said...

I used to date this guy who had this wierd Grizzly Adams thing going on. Once I saw him catch a snake , he tapped a stick back and forth around his head (the snakes, I mean)first on one side, then on the other. When the snake got good and confused he grabbed it with his index finger stuck out straight under the snakes head and the rest of his fingers circling it. That way the snakes head was immobolized. I also saw him catch a racoon once. He did the same type of thing where he kinda danced around it, feinting from one side to the other, then when the coon was dizzy, he snatched it up and threw it in his trunk. I'm not sure why really. I think he just liked showing off. And I must admit, his grace, agility and manliness was rather impressive, but not enough for me to keep seeing him. Maybe if he would've wrassled an alligator, huh!

6:28 PM  
Blogger Carina said...

Wow, he must have been....interesting. :p Actually, that's pretty impressive. So did he make Racoon Ratatouille and snake stirfry...? (Couldn't resist.)

6:14 AM  
Blogger Behind Blue Eyes said...

Actually, he didn't eat them. Seemed more interesting in .....proving his mastery or something like that. He was kind of a nature boy. Wasn't real adapted to society, but when you got him into the woods he could survive like Mcguyver.(sp)

1:12 PM  
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