This day started out like many, taking care of customers and fulfilling orders; but, as the evening drew near, there was anticipation and excitement building in the air. Tonight, we were setting off on a turtle expedition! Working on the farm at www.LoxHerp.com and www.PerfectPrey.com, there is always a cool variety of wild animals right at our doorstep. Here in Loxahatchee, Florida, we are surrounded by wetlands, ponds and a network of canals that are home to an assortment of critters, including various species of both native and non-native turtles.
The mission was simple: Be on the lookout for turtles and DO NOT tip the canoe. It was a chilly 48 degrees when we started paddling, with our trusted furry dog-guide, Ernie, aboard. We slowly cruised through the water, scouring the shallow water near shore for any turtle that might be hunkering down in this cool weather.
Only a few minutes had passed when suddenly, we caught a glimpse of our first turtle as he dove deep into the water and swiftly eluded us. Undeterred, we pressed onward, Ernie and myself at the bow kept a lookout, and Jeremy silently maneuvered the paddle to avoid spooking another shelled reptile. With my eyes glued to the shoreline, I felt the weight in the boat shift slowly but surely to the right side, and before I knew it…SPLASH! I helped Ernie crawl up the bank and scurried up to meet him at the top. I looked down to the canal only to see an upside down canoe and a soggy (yet, extremely satisfied) Jeremy standing in the water with a turtle in his hands.
We burst out in laughter as we realized what happened. Jeremy had seen the turtle starting to make a break for it and without any time to warn me, made a quick grab for it, tipping the canoe in the process. Luckily, we were able to call Jim to come pick us up with a truck and rescue our soaked and shivering crew. We admired this Florida Cooter Turtle once more, and with a wish for warmer weather soon, released him back into the canal.
Did you know? Peninsula Cooter’s are known for constructing unusual, 3-holed nests, digging one deep center hole and a couple shallower “satellite” holes on either side. The female lays most of the eggs in the center hole, and then a few in each of the satellite nests. The false nests are thought to distract predators from the main nest, although in most cases predators appear to find all three. On the other hand, Florida red-bellied cooters are known to deposit their eggs within the nests of rotting vegetation made by female alligators. Female alligators, like birds, exhibit a great deal of parental care and guard their nest from predators; and so any lucky cooter eggs laid within in her nest are also protected (Buhlmann, R. A: “Cooter Turtles,” Reptile Magazine)
Thanks for reading about our adventures here on the farm!?