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What’s With The Turtles In My Neighborhood?

Me holding a turtle in Cayman Islands (Dale Mussen)

Twice in four days, people have spotted turtles in my neighborhood. Both were a pretty good distance away from water but headed that way. And I’m talking good size turtles, about a foot in diameter and tails about six inches long. Never saw that before in my area. Maybe all the rain had something to do with it?

We just let him go to do whatever he had in mind because when your kind have been around for 200 million years you’ve gained that right. Turtles and tortoises have been around longer than mammals, birds, lizards, crocodiles, snakes. And they live a long time too. One Giant Ocean tortoise was estimated to be 50 years old when it was captured. It lived another 152 years. So maybe there’s something to be said for taking it slow and easy.

Turtles live on every continent in the world except Antarctica. They range in size from the two inch bog turtle to the 15-hundred pound Leathery Turtle.

Their shell is actually a combination of about 60 bones all fused together and if you touch their shell they can feel it.

One of their defenses is to retract it legs and head inside its shell for protection. One turtle is able to wedge itself in cracks in rocks or the ground and inflate itself so it can’t be removed. One breed in Africa is almost like a skunk. It gives out a smell so bad predators back away.

Depending on the breed, some turtles make noises. There’s one that clucks like a chicken, one sounds like it’s burping, one barks like a dog when it’s being attacked and still another gives out a high-pitched whine like an electric motor when it’s looking for a mate.

Two tortoises were the first living beings ever sent to the moon. Actually they were in a Russian space capsule that went around the moon and back. After a week in space they lost about ten percent of their body weight, but were perfectly fine.

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