Category Archives: snapping turtle

New York Turtle & Tortoise Show 2012

Some pics of the turtles and people at the June 2, 2012 NY Turtle & Tortoise Society show.


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Turtles of Central Park

A number of New York Turtle & Tortoise Society members met up this past Saturday in Central Park. Purpose: to look for turtles!

We were led by turtle conservationists Pete Warny and Jay Westerveld, who first took us to Turtle Pond, right by the Delacourte Theater.

  Jay (at left) and Pete.

It was a beautiful, warm day and dozens of turtles were basking right below the observation deck.

Turtles were also hanging out with a friendly cormorant.

Climbing to the top of Belvedere Castle, which overlooks the pond, we saw even more turtles, mostly red-eared sliders.


From there we walked over to Bethesda Fountain and Central Park Lake and saw turtles galore.

The sad part of the story is that most of these animals are pets that have been abandoned by their owners when they grew too large, or the owners grew tired of caring for them.  Still, these are NYC survivors!

Short video here:


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Photos from the 2011 NYTTS Turtle Show on June 4

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Timber Rattler but no Turtles

The only turtles we saw on our mini-vacation this weekend (aside from a sick turtle we brought with us so we could treat him every day) were at the Minnewaska Wildlife Center as we hiked around the lake. And here they are:



But the real excitement occurred after we’d take about ten steps out of the parking lot. Allen’s cousin had just finished saying, “You know, every time I visit this park I see a snake,” when we saw a juvenile timber rattler crossing the path.




Some park goers wanted to take photos of the snake. Others were scared. I told a man and a woman on bicycles to stop. I didn’t want them running over the snake. From the look on the woman’s face, she didn’t want the snake running over her. But all the snake wanted to do? Just get to the other side of the road.


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Snapping Turtle Takes Car Ride

Over the years, dozens of turtles have spent the night in our bathtub. Ten years ago, so did a 14-inch-long common snapper we named Stormin’ Norman. I wrote about Stormin’ at length in Confessions of a Turtle Wife.

A few month’s after Stormin’ left, a smaller, ten-inch-long snapper took up temporary residence in the tub. Here’s his story.

We named this extremely docile turtle Snappy.

Snappy’s owner had raised him from a hatchling. But apparently, the turtle had become too large for the owner’s comfort level. The man gave Snappy to the ASPCA, and they turned him over to Allen.

Snappy’s shell was conspicuously malformed. Its edges curved upwards in a fruit bowl shape, a sure sign of malnutrition. He’d almost certainly been fed too much protein. And he’d been given way too much—or not nearly enough—vitamins and minerals.

Although Snappy never once snapped at us, his attitude toward food was the exact opposite of the hunger-stricking Stormin’s. Snappy ate absolutely everything Allen fed him—including some pieces of the bottom of the shower curtain, which Allen did not feed him.

I didn’t mind using the bathroom with Snappy staring up at me from the tub. Since he was half the size of Stormin’, he didn’t scare me half as much.

One Saturday afternoon, Allen and Barbara D., the Turtle Society’s Education Director, drove to New Jersey to give a turtle lecture to a Boy Scout troop. They took Snappy along.

Barbara drove. The trunk and backseat of her big old Buick were filled with banners, tanks, Turtle Society tee shirts, and books, and more—stuff she used in the educational program on turtles she gave at schools, parks, and fairs.

So the only space in the car for the cardboard box with Snappy inside was on Allen’s lap.

That wasn’t a problem—until just blocks away from our apartment, Snappy’s head ripped through the top of the box, followed closely by his front claws.

“Ohmygod Ohmygod what do we do now?” cried Barbara.

“Quick, pull over, pull over!” Allen said, thrusting the box toward the windshield.

“I can’t get over–there’s too much traffic!”

“I’ll try to keep his head away from us! Allen held the box with his right hand. With his left, he grabbed the first thing he could reach from the back seat—a roll of duct tape.

He tried pushing Snappy’s head back into the box with the tape. But the roll accidentally slipped over Snappy’s head.

“Oh, shit,” Allen said.

“Oh hell,” Barbara said. She floored the car, swerving through three lanes of traffic to try to reach the service lane and the curb.

“Look at this!” Allen exclaimed. Barbara briefly glanced at Snappy, who was ignoring both the duct tape and Allen. Instead, he complacently stared out the open window, surveying his fascinating new surroundings.

Seconds later, as Barbara maneuvered the car to the curb, Snappy was still peering out of the window, and Allen and Barbara were shaking with laughter.

“God that scared me,” Barbara said.

“Scared you,” Allen said. “I was the one about to loose an eye or an ear!”

They collapsed into laughter again.

Allen managed to pull the roll of tape back over Snappy’s head. He and Barbara pushed the renegade snapper back into the box (using Peter Pritchard’s 895-page-long Encyclopedia of Turtles to keep the turtle’s head away from them.) Allen triple taped the box shut with the duct tape.

“He won’t get out again,” he said.

They reached their destination with no further disruption.

A week later (early September), Allen gave Snappy to John, a New Jersey Turtle Society member, to release into a private lake on John’s property.

John later reported to Allen, “I set Snappy down on the beach. Now, in this situation, most snapping turtles will sprint for the water, right? But what does this one do? He sits on the bank for fifteen minutes admiring the scenery. I could tell it was hopeless, so I brought him into the house for the winter. I’ll try to release him again next spring.”

We assume Snappy made it into the lake that spring. I wonder if he dreams about riding around in the front seat of Barbara’s Buick.


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The Annual New York Turtle &Tortoise Society (NYTTS) Show

One thing never ceases to amaze me about the annual New York Turtle & Tortoise Society (NYTTS) turtle show – how fast the time goes. Allen and I drive into Manhattan, arrive at the Village Community School at 11 am, and spend the next hour setting up (we don’t bring turtles; we bring turtle chotchkes to sell) in the school yard.

At noon, the “doors” open to people and turtles. What feels like mere minutes later, it’s 5pm – the white, red and blue ribbons are being announced, and the trophy for best turtle is given for health, longevity and breeding success.

And then it’s 6—time to pack up and go home.

How does the day go by so fast?

Many things remain the same from year to year: turtles bask in tanks and tubs and kiddie pools. Umbrellas provide shade for some; pottery shards, newspaper, and plastic tubs shelter others from the heat of the day.

Juvenile Chinese Box Turtle

Water turtles enjoy some shade.

Sulcatas, red foots, yellow foots and leopard tortoises mosey around the school yard, getting under people’s feet, eliciting oohs and ahhs and attracting everyone with a digital camera (including me, of course).

Dr. Roger Wood of the Wetlands Institute in Stone Harbor, New Jersey is on hand with educational displays, adult and hatchling diamondback terrapins, students from Stockton State College and international interns learning about turtle conservation.

A veterinarian, most often Dr. Bill McCord, goes from turtle to turtle, carefully judging each turtle and giving each owner care advice. (How old is your box turtle and what are you feeding it? It’s two years old and you’re giving it fruits and vegetables? Try to give it worms once a week, or a pinky. It needs more protein at this stage of life.)

Dozens of turtle species are exhibited: red-eared sliders, snappers, spotted turtles, eastern box turtles, Chinese box turtles, Greek tortoises, cooters, mata matas, hingback tortoises, Horsefelds tortoises – even some Japanese pond turtles, which won this year’s grand prize.

Juvenile Japanese Pond Turtle

Winners 2008 Turtle Show

One thing is plain: people love their turtles!

Turtle lover and common snapping turtle.

Turtle lover and hingeback tortoise

Turtle lover and African sulcata (spur-thigh) tortoise.

Turtle lover and African sulcata (spur-thigh) tortoise.

When I can get away from our sale table, I walk around, take photos, talk to old friends, and do my own ohhing and ahhing over the turtles.

The day is rarely long enough!

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