Monday, July 31, 2006

Tripping With Turtles


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(NOTE: Picasa and Blogger were NOT communicating well today, most of my photo posts are vanishing, but I finally seem to have got some photos up)

If you've been paying attention and not sleeping in the back of the Pure Florida classroom, you will remember the turtle nest of April 11, 2006.
That tub of sand and turtle eggs has spent the last couple of months in my little workshop. I've checked it daily during that time, added a little water now and then, set it out in the sun a few times...you know, basic turtle nest care.

I was beginning to consider the possibility that I had failed (I find this hard to do) in my attempt at turtle egg hatching. Sixty days is the average incubation time for turtle eggs and we had passed that back in June. Could it be that I had doomed these tiny eggs instead of saving them from a poorly chosen original nest site? You may recall that my reason for moving them back in May was the female Cooter had laid them near my driveway and garbage can zone...just about the worst place for eggs or emerging baby turtles on the whole 10 acres. At that site, the eggs and subsequent turtlings would have to survive numerous fire ants, raccoons, oppossums, trespassing cats (grrr!), and our vehicle traffic.

So I interfered.

Last Tuesday, I went into the barn to feed my siren some earthworms before leaving for a weeklong beach trip, I gave the turtle tub a quick glance.

There was a tiny, perfect, sandcovered baby turtle crawling around inside the tub. SUCCESS!

There was only one course of action...the hatchery would have to go to the beach resort with us. We shoved aside some luggage and into the JEEP went the tub of tentative turtles.

We smuggled (I have some experience in this field)the tub into the suite (NO PETS POLICY IN EFFECT), unpacked, changed into beach gear and were about to hit the surf when a quick check revealed another baby had emerged. Behind it, another egg was splitting open, revealing a tiny striped head.

So it was, that the first half hour of our beach vacation was spent on the floor of our motel room, sitting around this sandy blue Rubbermaid tub watching 11 tiny turtles emerge from their eggs.

Out of 13 original eggs, 2 did not develop, but 11 out of 13 is a pretty good hatch rate.

For the rest of the week, we let the turtles get some sun on our private porch and then hid the bucket of turtles in the closet (to avoid detection by the maid service) when we were out having fun.

It all worked out, and as I write there are 10 baby turtles sunning outside in the yard. Only 10 came home...

My mom wanted one for her goldfish pond...that will be one spoiled turtle. The remaining 10 are going to stay with us for awhile as we are all smitten by them.

Eventually, I will distribute them to various local streams and my own pond.

...eventually.
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22 comments:

pablo said...

little turtle heads poking out!


(there's a blog with that name.)

So do you need a permit to do this kind of thing? (Not that I'm planning to. Just curious mostly.) Can you identify what kind of turtles these are? What will you do with them?

Aren't woodland turtles vectors for salmonella sometimes? Would these babies be born with it, or do they have to acquire it sometime during their life?

Abandoned in Pasadena said...

How cute!!! That's the same kind of bucket that my little 5 baby aligator snapping turtles hatched out in. It was interesting to see the umbilical cord still attached. And they are so tiny when they hatch. Hard to imagine sometimes.

Did you say these were sea turtles in a previous post? Or not?

Betsy said...

Oh, now THAT, IS, CUTE!

Pasadena -- Umbilical cord?? A biological impossibility. Only placental mammals can have umbilical cords.

Perhaps it was the remnants of the allantois. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allantois

Floridacracker said...

Pablo,
I think there must be a blog out there for any random combination of words!
Permits...possibly, these are an edible game animal in FL. I would never do this with any of the seaturtles since I no longer carry the USFWS permit that allowed me to move seaturtle nests in the '80's. It is okay to keep these as pets, so I think I acted under the law.
The salmonella threat from reptiles is more related to domestic reptile pets who have more contact with their own excrement in dirty cages, tanks etc. I'm thinking they would have to acquire it post hatch.

Abandoned,
That was the remains of their yolk sac which is slowly absorbed after hatching. Baby snappers are cute too!

Betsy,
When I was a kid, these were for sale in every Woolworths store in the south.

robin andrea said...

Those are the cutest little things. Are you planning on keeping at least one? I'd like to be an honorary long-distance aunt. They can come to visit us anytime.

Leslie said...

OH, how exciting! What a fun way to begin a vacation. They aren't pets, you know, unless you name them.
Blogger is giving me fits with pics, too :(

Mrs. S said...

Ooooh! That's so thrilling!! 11 out of 13 is an awesome rate! I remember when we hatched chicks in our classroom when I was in grade two, and we got about the same ratio. Luckily, the "numbering the eggs to correspond them to children" didn't work because many of the chicks hatched over night (and even if someone had been there to watch, how do you keep chicks identified!?!?) and the numbers fell off, so no one knew which person's chicks didn't hatch.

I'm glad one of the turtles is going to be spoiled.

Nothing like new life to lift the spirits, eh?

Deb said...

Too cute! I should try this just for fun next year with painted or snapping turtle eggs--there's always one or two nests along the driveway.

threecollie said...

FC I am proud to know someone that would smuggle hatching turtlings along on vacation. And they are incredibly cute!

Hurricane Teen said...

Are these those same little turtles that used to be painted and sold in pet stores a while back? That always made me sick. But these guys are so cute!

Floridacracker said...

Robin,
Aunt Robin it is!

Leslie,
We've named the runt "Squirt", but so far the rest are anonymous. I went to the Blogger help site and that picture posting SNAFU is a "known issue" that they are trying to solve. Hopefully they can solve it quickly.

Mrs. S,
Glad no one was crushed by failure to launch eggs back in your grade school. I actually think all of these turtles are going to be spoiled for a while.

Deb,
I bet your kids would love it!

ThreeCollie,
Thanks! Actually, it was less of a challenge than the Lab Puppy I smuggled into my college dorm...turtles are quiet.

Hurricane Teen,
I never saw them actually painted, but they were a common dimestore item (as were baby gators) when I was a little kid. FYI, Woolworths was down town on the south side of the park near Charlotte Street...bunch of touristy shops there now.

Laura said...

Very cool! Maybe you should make a sign for your called "Turtle Run."

....or something similar? All in all,
great to hear the lil guys survived the trip.

Laura said...

that should have read: "...a sign for your house or driveway called "Turtle Run."

Floridacracker said...

Laura,
Great idea, I'll put it next to the "Lab Crossing" sign.
I could also put up a "Caution, Watch For Otters Eating All The Fish In FC's Pond" sign and a "If You See The Neighbor's Black Cat In The Driveway, Please Speed Up" sign.

Anonymous said...

Laughing at the last two posts. A smuggled lab puppy in your dorm room? It's hard enough to keep a lab puppy in a small house! How did you do it? Notice I'm not asking why; after three labs I KNOW why. :)

Floridacracker said...

Anonymous,
I think the lab smuggling might be worth a future full post of it's own, Thanks! :)

roger said...

"lab smuggling" conjures up some interesting images for me, mostly not to do with dogs. great job on turtles.

Deb said...

By the way, "anonymous" was me. I don't know how that happened!

Thunder Dave said...

It looks like you were pretty successful!

Although the ones that would have survived the natural setting of their nest would probably have built more character from their experience. ;-)

Thunder Dave said...

Oh, I forgot to give the weather comparison for today:

US - 95F,72% humidity,Dew pt.@75F

You - 92F, 75% Humidity, Dew pt.@75F

Like I said we get all the heat and humidity, but where's the beach?!

doubleknot said...

Glad your cooters made it. Thanks for helping keep them going. I like the idea of the one in your mother's pond - spoiled baby.

Floridacracker said...

roger,
future furry post...non chemical content.

debanon,
I should have known, a fellow lab lover.

ThunderD,
Yes, being eaten alive by fireants is a character building experience...I know. Wow, we are similar temps...too bad about the lack of salt water.

Doubleknot,
Hi! Yes, that turtle is sitting pretty. He'll stay put if he knows what's good for him.