Friday, October 1, 2010

Week in Review - The Invasion of the Vicious Turtle!

Vicious turtle you ask?  Yep, that's what I said. This week, while we were heading home from the grocery store, we passed a little turtle in the road.  Being the nature freak lover that I am, I had to turn around and save him from being squished.  For some insane reason, some of the people where I live delight in making a point of running over poor defenseless turtles in the road.  So, in turn, I make a point of rescuing as many as I can.  So here I am, driving along with a van full of groceries and three kids, when we pass this little turtle.  No cars in sight, so I quickly turn around, pull up beside him, open the van door for Haley (automatic sliding door that is), and she quickly hops out and grabs what I have assured her is yet another common (and friendly) box turtle.  She does as she's told (for once in her natural born life), and quickly discovers he's none of those things.  She starts screaming that he's trying to bite her, he has big claws, and he smells...really bad!  Needless to say she dropped him like a hot potato to the floor of the van.  I'm trying to get going because there's a car coming and I was stopped in the road.  Naturally, the van door won't close!  So here we are with screaming kids, a vicious turtle at their feet, driving down a country road with the van door half open and the subsequent alarm beeping its little heart out at me.  Nice, huh?  Thankfully, the door did eventually close, the turtle quit trying to eat my children, and all is well again.

Upon arriving home and reassuring my daughter the whole way, that maybe the turtle is simply having a bad day and that he's just scared, I notice something strange about our so called "box turtle".  For one, she's right...he smells!  He smells fishy.  Never had a turtle in the car that smelled fishy before.  Another thing about him is that he has webbed feet.  Now we've rescued all kinds of turtles, and I like to think that I know a bit about turtles (and everything else for that matter, but that's another story), but I've never seen one exactly like this.  Just a couple of weeks ago we rescued a baby alligator snapping turtle out of the road using a handy McDonald's happy meal box.  Needless to say I didn't ask the kids to grab that one!

After carefully extricating him from the floor of the van, and avoiding his constant snapping, I determine that he is indeed some type of snapping turtle.  What I was completely unaware of was that there are several varieties of snapping turtles.  I've lived to the ripe old age of almost 41 years and never knew that.  Can you imagine????  Of course, us being the crazy homeschooling family we are, we decided to keep him for a bit to study him closer.  We had just done a report for nature club last week on alligator snapping turtles.  We couldn't possibly let him go immediately, now could we? he is swimming in his temporary tank where he stayed overnight.

He's trying to hide from us under the plastic grass in his tank.  Um...we can still see you!  The kids named him Buster, and for all the hype about snapping turtles being vicious and all, he was a big baby.  He was even scared of the worm we tried to feed him!  The only time he attempted to snap at us was if we picked him up.  If you put anything in front of his face, he retreated into to his shell and refused to come out until the coast was clear.  Here he is without the plant on top.

So, after doing some internet research, we found out that he is a Common Snapping Turtle.  Obviously they must not be too common since I'd never seen one until now.  They are not as scary or prehistoric looking as their cousins the alligator snapping turtles.  They don't have the spiked shell, the hooked beak on their lower jaw, and they appear to be less aggressive.  I wouldn't recommend testing that theory though!  It was really neat to see him sitting on the bottom and stretching his neck up to stick his nose out for a breath of air.

After observing him (or scaring him as the case may be) overnight, we took him to the local pond and set him free.  The kids were firmly convinced that he and the little alligator snapping turtle we released a couple of weeks ago, would be fast friends.  Maybe, as long as they don't try to eat each other.  Here he is staring freedom (also known as dirty pond water) in the face.

It took a bit of coaxing (namely Ryan telling him that he better get a move on or somebody would try to turn him into turtle soup), and he was on his way.  Bye bye Buster...have a nice life!

Of course, we did lots of other stuff this week, like watch my husband deal with a stomach virus, but he (Buster, not my husband's stomach virus) was the highlight.  How was your week?  You can find lots of other great Weekly Wrap Up posts over at Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers.  Have a great weekend everyone!


  1. LOL That's definately an interesting week.

  2. Great story! Made me think of the chapter of _Minn of the Mississippi_ that we read this week, wherein Minn, a young snapping turtle, scares some children who think she's a monster. :-)

  3. Very cool! I love those real life learning opportunities. Oh, and you're not alone in the rescuing of turtles. My mom and I used to always stop and rescue turtles, now the kids and I do as long it's safe to do so.

  4. Hilarious!

    We like to study things for a while too before releasing them back into their natural habitat too!