Saturday, August 14, 2010

Turtle Cliff Hanger

As the dry spell continues, areas with water draw increasing numbers of animals. Surface flow in the creek has essentially stopped, but the ground water is still high enough to recharge the pools. I keep a close watch for animal signs when I travel near these areas. A movement partway up the steep creek bank drew my attention to this spot.

As I moved closer, I could see something writhing among the exposed tree roots. At first I thought it was a snake wrestling with some prey item. I hurried closer to get a better view.

What I found was a turtle struggling to climb the vertical bank. I know it’s hard to imagine a turtle writhing, given its relatively fixed posture, but that’s what it was doing. It had reached a point where the top of the bank was curling back toward the creek and could go no higher. It seemed to be using the roots as safety lines as it leaned back and flailed its legs about.

Perhaps it was just preparing for sleep and intended to use the roots as a hammock. I was getting the impression that it was somewhat distressed. At least he didn’t have any comprehension of the distance he would fall before hitting the rocks at the base of the bank.

From atop the bank, I peered over the edge to witness his struggle. It almost looks like he’s holding on with his jaws. Unless he’s equipped with tree frog toe pads, he’s not going to make it to the top. It would also be difficult to make a controlled descent from this point.

I decided to intervene and boost the turtle up and over the edge. Hopefully he can stay out of trouble from here on.


  1. I'm sure he was delighted to receive a helping hand Steve.

  2. Hey Steve....That was kind of you ...I thought for sure you was going to say that you took him home and put him in some sort of a make shift place for while.. ; } !!

  3. Beautiful turtle. (Never thought I'd say that!) So, what kind is it?

  4. Hi, Frank. A boost was definitely needed.

    grammie g - Years ago I used to bring home injured turtles found on the road. They would live in a special turtle corral until healed. When they got back to normal, they usually crawled out and went off on their own. I occasionally see one of them crossing the yard, identifiable by the scars left from their encounter with a car. Sadly, the number of turtles seen in southern Ohio decreases each year.

    Katie – The turtle is a male Eastern Box Turtle.