Saturday, April 25, 2015


Photo by Willem M. Roosenburg, Ph.D., Ohio University.
Diamondback Terrapin gets His name from the diamond-shaped patterns on his carapace (upper shell). This freshwater Turtle lives in brackish water along the Atlantic coast of the United States.

Unlike Marine Turtle, Diamondback Terrapin cannot drink seawater because his body cannot excrete salt. However if the Turtle stays only in fresh water, He will develop a skin fungus.

Diamondback Terrapin spends most of the day in the water, floating on his back (carapace down). The Turtle keeps his body steady with his powerful hind legs. At night, the Terrapin buries Himself in the mud for warmth.

Relentlessly hunted for His meat, Diamondback Terrapin was brought to near extinction in the early 20th Century. What saved the Turtle was the American Prohibition on alcohol during the 1920s, because alcohol is needed in cooking the turtle meat. At the same time, U.S. federal and state laws were passed to save the Turtle. Today, Diamondback Terrapin has recovered in numbers, although He will never be as numerous, as He once was.

Diamondback Terrapin teaches about having a second chance. Once you get another chance, take it and do all that you can with it. With His second chance, Diamondback Terrapin came back from near-extinction.
Diamondback Turtle’s Wisdom includes:
Living “Betwixt and Between”
Not Giving Up
For more information on this amazing turtle: Maryland State Reptile

Monday, April 20, 2015

FRESHWATER AND SEMI-AQUATIC TURTLES: Hidden Surprises in Common Things


The most successful of all Turtle Sub-Families are Emydids. This Sub-Family is split into two groups – Emydinae that includes pond turtles, sliders, map turtles, and terrapins, and Batagurinae that includes leaf, box, and wood turtles. Although Emydids live on all the continents except Australia and Antarctica, most of Them can be found in the Northern Hemisphere.

Emydids are a group of homogeneous Turtles with moderately flattened shells. The plastrons (bottom half) of their shells are large and sometimes hinged. They can close their shells completely. However their main characteristic is their short necks. In addition, Emydids are surprisingly hardy and long-lived, with an average lifespan of forty years.

Largely freshwater and semi-terrestrial turtles, Emydids usually spend their time between land and water. They prefer living near marshes, rivers, and lakes. Although Emydids are considered to be water turtles, Box Turtle, who lives mainly on land, is included in their number.

One thing that makes Emydids extraordinary is how well They thrive in spite of having so many enemies. Their nests are raided by various Mammals. Snakes and Shore Birds eat Juvenile Emydids. Alligators and people eat the Adults. Somehow Emydids survived through it all, and still remain prolific throughout the world. They are so prevalent that when people think “turtle”, they usually picture a typical Emydid.

Most Emydids have a subtle characteristic that identifies Them. Red-Eared Sliders have red patches by each ear. Diamondback Terrapins have a diamond pattern on their shells. Spotted Turtles have spots on their shells. Emydids also have distinctive personalities. Wood Turtles are extroverted while mild-mannered Spotted Turtles are shy.

The ordinariness of Emydids hides many surprises. Box Turtles usually live longer than a century. Map Turtles have intricate patterns of yellow on their shells that resemble maps. Look carefully at ordinary things and you will find hidden surprises.

Take time to read what individual Emydid teachers have to teach.

Monday, April 06, 2015

MATAMATA: Stealth and Craftiness

The most unusual Turtle in the world is Matamata, who lives in the Amazon and Orinoco River Systems of South America. Instead of looking like a typical Turtle, He resembles a pile of debris. When a Fish nibbles on the fibrous parts of Matamata’s head, He springs into action. Expanding his huge mouth, He vacuums up the unfortunate Fish. Expelling the excess water, Matamata then swallows Fish whole.

Having a sedentary but predatory way of life on muddy river bottoms is reflected in his unusual features. Matamata has a snorkel for a nose and leaf-like skin flaps covering his head and neck. His powerful back supports his neck to enable Him to vacuum up his prey. (Matamata belongs to the Side- Necked Turtle Family (Pleurodira).) With his sixth sense, He detects water vibrations. Living at the bottom of dark waterways, Matamata never basks in the sun like other Turtles.

In their various languages, the Amazon Indians refer to Matamata as “I Kill”. Blending with his surroundings, Matamata waits for an unsuspecting Fish to swim by. He remains still as Fish snacks on his head. Suddenly without notice, He will suck the surprised Fish up into his mouth. In other times, Matamata will herd Fish into a pen. A poor swimmer, He walks along the bottom of the muddy water herding the Fish. When He finally corners the Fish, Matamata vacuums Them up.

Matamata uses stealth and cunning to catch Fish. Looking like a pile of leaves, He deceives a Fish into thinking He is a tasty snack. Matamata quietly waits for the unwary Fish to start nibbling. Springing to life, He sucks the stunned Fish into his mouth. Learn how to be crafty from Matamata.