Sunday, July 3, 2011

Speed and Speedy...

After the recent floods in our area, we seem to have an abundance of these little guys around (turtles, not kids).  So Nate did what any typical 5 yr old would do and gathered some up to haul to the house.  His father obliged him and helped set up an old sand box complete with water, vegetation, and other turtle essentials (whatever those are!)  After much though and review of their unique personalities, we carefully selected the names "Speed", "Speedy", and "Henry".  After a few days, we decided they were better off in a more natural environment so they were released back into the "wild" at a local neighbors pond.  The kids were interested in learning more so a quick Google search led us to learn the following:

  • Most turtle and tortoise societies recommend against box turtles as pets for small children. [oops!] Box turtles are easily stressed by over-handling and require more care than is generally thought. [No kidding!] Box turtles can be injured by dogs and cats so special care must be taken to protect them from household pets. Box turtles require an outdoor enclosure, consistent exposure to the sun and a varied diet. Without these, a turtle's growth can be stunted and its immune system weakened.
  • Box turtles are official of four U.S. states. North Carolina and Tennessee honor the eastern box turtle. Missouri names the three-toed box turtle. Kansas honors the ornate box turtle.
  • North American box turtles are omnivores with a very varied diet as box turtles "basically eat anything it can catch". Invertebrates (amongst others insects, earth worms, millipedes) form the principal component, but the diet also consists for a large part (reports range from 30-90%) of vegetation.  [Ours really liked the grasshoppers & crickets we fed them but they were really hard to catch!]
  • Once maturity is reached, the chance of death seems not to increase with age. [Unless they run into a kid after an untimely flood!] The survivorship curve of box turtles is therefore probably similar to that of other long-living turtles. The average life span of adult box turtles is 50 years, while a significant proportion lives over 100 years. The age of a growing box turtle in the wild can be roughly estimated by counting the growth rings on the scutes.
 So with that, we are pretty sure Speed and Speedier are living the dream in Southwest Nebraska.  We are also pretty sure they will go into hiding after the next big rainstorm!