Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Spiny softshell

It seems to be a turtle kind of a week.

A spiny softshell turtle was looking for a place to lay her eggs, but Jasmine spied her and had other ideas.

The latin name is Apalone spinifera, or The Turtle Formerly Known As Trionyx spiniferus.

Built-in snorkle!

It wasn't until later that I read that their jaws are razor sharp and can inflict a painful bite. In blissful ignorance I sat on the ground to get a turtle's eye view. Luckily I didn't get bitten.

Maybe she was too busy laughing at the muscovy who thinks he's my boyfriend.

The lumps on the shell mean she's a spiny instead of a smooth softshell.

I could see why they're called the pancake turtle. It's harder on the top, but around the sides the shell was pliable like leather.

Supersized! Males only reach about 9 inches, so this one is definitely a female. They're supposed to grow to 18 inches, so she must be pushing maximum poundage. I read that a large female can live 50 years!

I used the shovel to convince her she'd be better off in the ditch, away from the dog. She was much lighter than the snapping turtle I'd shoveled earlier in the month. Later in the day I saw her in the small pond.

It was a herp-filled day yesterday. We also saw a medium sized rat snake (that we relocated to the other side of the creek), a jillion baby frogs, and some small basking turtles.

While looking for info on the turtle, I also found a Checklist of the amphibians and reptiles of Alabama.

More info on the Spiny softshell is here, here, here, and here.


sugarcreekfarm said...

Love the turtle and all (especially the 'snorkel') - but the Muscovey is too cool! I've been wanting to get a couple, but I'm afraid that after a while I'll have more than a couple. Do you have to clip their wings to keep them around? Do tell us more about them, pretty please?

Sharfa said...

That is one alien looking turtle! Very cool - never seen anything like that around here! (New England)

swamp4me said...

Perhaps your mystery eggs came from the softshell -- I believe their eggs are nearly spherical and a bit smaller than the snapper's. But, that's only speculation. We don't have softshells in my area of the state.

Around here the yellow-bellied sliders are out in force laying eggs like crazy -- making all the raccoons, crows and other egg eaters very happy!

Rexroth's Daughter said...

You get the best turtles there in Alabama. That snout is just amazing. And that muscovy-- I've never seen one before. What a beauty-- and that red head is lovely.

Deb said...

I'm loving these turtle posts! That's one huge softshell; I've seen them here in Minnesota but not that big. Last week we had a snapping turtle laying eggs right in front of our office; I have one picture on my blog at Sand Creek Almanac.

pablo said...

Though I've not seen any (yet) at the lake at Roundrock, I have seen turtles called sliders in some of the spring-fed rivers in southern Missouri.

As for boyfriends, I'll bet you have plenty!

Watchmania said...

What an extraordinary looking turtle. Her head looks like the head of a little critter who got stuck in someone's else's humungus body.

Anonymous said...

Great post!

Jean said...

Very exotic and impressive to me, and terrific photos.

Anonymous said...

wonderful turtle. i have a friend who raised one of these. i thought it looked like a little dinosaur :)

Rurality said...

Thanks everybody!

Welcome to the Seven Wonders web wanderers. (They picked me as "site of the day". Hey it's my Major Award!

Kelli I did a post on Muscovies earlier - it's here. RD is one of the few who think that they're pretty! I have heard that some muscovies reproduce quite handily, but ours haven't managed to figure it out yet. The white ones always seem to be more popular, so you might be able to sell those if you have too many. Also see Sarah's Homestead Blog photo gallery for more muscovy pics.

They fly a lot more when they're young. I haven't seen any of ours fly in ages, although they could if they wanted to. Used to drive us nuts flying up to the roof every night then clomping around like Santa in the wee hours.

Yeah my husband thinks they look like dinosaurs too (the turtles not the muscovies).

Sharfa, I don't think I remember seeing one of these until we moved out to the country.

Swampy, you may be right! I had read on one site that the softshell's eggs were elliptical, but that just goes to show you that you can't believe everything you read on the internet. :)

Deb cool pic! Wish I could have caught ours in the act.

Pablo the parakeet likes me a lot too. :)

Sara, yeah! The neck is really very very long but she wasn't prepared to show it to me unfortunately.

jillian said...

What an amazing looking creature! (the Moscovy too...)

And what a schnoz...looks like she's part anteater, too.

shannon said...

Neat! Softshells are so interesting...we don't have them in NJ, and when I lived in MI, I loved it when people would bring them in (smooth ones there, mostly) Your place is a haven for turtle mamas it seems!

happyandblue2 said...

Such a strange looking turtle. The ones here are all normal turtles without the wierd noses..

Trix said...

What a snout. Maybe its shaped thus to fend off ladies with shovels...

Anonymous said...

I am continuously amazed at your wildlife, so very different from ours! That turtle is something else.

Our young Muscovies are definitely in a flying phase...when they feel it is time for their dinner they fly out front and wait on the doorsteps, or start stomping around on the roof.

I don't recall the website, but when I was researching them I read a perfect description, which is, "They don't so much fly away, as just fly around."


Hick said...

That is the coolest turtle I have ever seen.

Are you a real person or a composite of a bunch of National Geographic photographers? Maybe you live on a wild life preserve. Maybe you just take photos of your chickens and photo shop them into weird looking ducks and bizarre-nosed turtles and beetles and stuff. I must are good.

jenni said...

LOL. that snorkle turtle is so weird! jack and I were looking at it and just cracking up!