Sunday, May 13, 2012

Older Box Turtles

Not long after discovering the baby box turtle, I found some more mature members of the species.  This turtle is about two-thirds of the typical adult size and is at the stage that I think of as a teenager, even though the actual age of the turtle is probably around four to six years. 

The shell pattern is developed enough to make an identification shot worthwhile.  If I photograph him in future years, I should be able to match him to this photo.

The shell of a young turtle hasn’t seen a lot of wear and shows the build up of many layers of scutes.  You can count the number of scutes as you would rings of a tree, but that’s not an accurate way of determining age.  Turtle growth is determined by food consumption and environment.  The more it eats, the faster it grows and the more scutes you will have.

The most common turtle find is an old adult.  Turtles spend their lives within a small territory.  The entire life of an Eastern Box Turtle could easily be lived in an area of less than an acre.  I find it comforting to think that those turtles living well within the borders of Blue Jay Barrens have little risk of being run over or getting carried off to be pets.

Some of the shell patterns can be quite intricate.  These markings remind me of prehistoric cave paintings. 

Older turtles have well worn shells.  The younger scutes have all worn off, leaving the shell with a smooth polished look.  I’m fortunate to have so many opportunities to visit with these interesting creatures.