June 2, 2020

Rehoboth Land Trust News

Posted

Give Turtles a Brake!

The Rehoboth Land Trust provides excellent habitat for our local turtles. Turtles have changed little over the past 200 million years, but our roads and cars are no match for them. Beginning late May and continuing through early July, female turtles search for high sunny ground to bury their eggs. It will take 2-3 months of warmth for the baby turtles to develop underground and hatch. It will take another 10-12 years for a hatchling to reproduce. It must first beat the odds of being eaten by a raccoon, skunk, a wading bird or a bull frog.

Our most common turtle is the painted turtle with its yellow striped head. Much less common, but still to be found, is the wood turtle that winters in rivers like the Palmer and in clear sandy bottom streams. This beautiful animal with its sculptured shell and brick orange neck was once very common and spends most of the summer on land foraging for berries and worms. There are occasional reports from Land Trust property of the eastern box turtle especially after summer rainstorms. It can close up tightly in its shell so that a raccoon cannot pry it open. The box turtle, once common in southern New England, can live 100 years. The smaller spotted turtle, bluish black and covered with bright yellow spots, is found in shallow wetlands and vernal pools.

If a female turtle is killed by a car or tractor, it means the loss of many future eggs for the population. Habitat fragmentation due to development and roadkill are the leading causes of turtles disappearing. The Land Trust and turtle friendly private lands can help these reptiles still thrive in Rehoboth. If you do see a turtle on the road, never swerve to avoid it, but please slow down. If it is safe to stop (think human safety first!), move the turtle in the direction it was headed. Never move a turtle to a new location far away since it wants to stay in its home territory. Wear gloves or use a snow shovel to help larger turtles such as the snapping turtle out of the road.

Join us as a member: see our website at www.rehobothlandtrust.net.

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