Friday, June 23, 2006

Snapping Turtles in Maine

Apparently, in Orono, Maine, they just don't have the density of snapping turtle population that we do in Liberty.

Twice in as many days this week, a snapping turtle has made an appearance on the pavement in Orono...

...Orono police Officer Casey Miller approached the turtle for a closer look on Wednesday. Miller, who has faced unruly people and intoxicated motorists, admittedly found himself in a new situation...

"As soon as I got close to her, she pretty much freaked out," he said Thursday. The snapping turtle began flopping around and, of course, snapped at the officer.

The really scary part of this story -- for the turtle -- comes with her second appearance on the next day.

The woman who had contacted police about the turtle said she had tried to scoop the turtle up with a shovel, but Myrtle would have nothing to do with that, and the reptile "just kept snapping at her," Miller was told.

As a person who has frequently aided snappers in their road crossings, reading what this well-intentioned woman tried to do sends chills up and down my spine. How easily the turtle might have fallen -- or crawled -- off the shovel and sustained injury! Thank goodness someone from the university showed up with a trash can.

The easiest way to help a snapper is to approach it quickly from behind, grab onto the ridge of its shell just above and slightly in front of its rear legs. Call it four o' clock and eight o' clock. Pick up the turtle, but never more than a few inches off the ground, in case you drop it. Take it in the direction it was going, and put it down. If it was a big one, get away quickly. They can really spin around quickly and snap! This is also why you want to approach the turtle quickly, before it decides to spin around and defend itself.

The only time this hasn't worked for me is on a really wet day a couple of weeks ago, when a large snapper had just gotten out of a slimy bog. When I tried to get ahold of it, it got loose by wagging its head violently. If I'd had some rubber gloves in the car, I might have been able to get a grip. As it was, all I could do was hope the turtle got across safely on her own.

For more turtle-related news, check out Little Turtle Heads Poking Out.

Update: I have just discovered that my lovely wife Rowan ranted about the very same subject last night, with many links to both turtle and porcupine safety sites. Great minds and great hearts think and feel alike!



Linking to: Woman Honor Thyself, Comedian Jenee: People are Idiots, Gospel Fiction, MacBros' Place, Dan Mancini, Leaning Straight Up, Pirate's Cove

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