Friday, June 27, 2008

Turtle identification made extremely difficult

Jasmine was barking like crazy at something in the middle of the back yard.

It was a turtle, laying eggs in a not-so-secluded spot.

I shooed the dog away, took a few pictures, and left her to it.

I went out later to try to find the egg site, but couldn't relocate it.

It finally did dawn on me later, that some previous mystery sites (small wet shallow holes) were places where turtles had recently laid eggs. Aha! I felt so smart. I mentioned this to my husband, and he said something along the lines of, "Of course, didn't you know that already?" Well, maybe I just forgot.

Anyway, this happened a few weeks ago. I found the turtle pictures again when moving some photos off the camera's disk. So I set out to identify the turtle.

I found a couple of good ID sites. One is the Turtle Field Guide. But it asked a lot of questions that I didn't have the answers to.

Then there's the Turtle Identification Guide and Checklist. I like that one better, because you don't have to know each answer before moving on to the next question. Plus, there are the drawings, and satisfying little check boxes.

But I'm still not sure which turtle this is. That would have required
1) Washing the turtle off, to try to make out the pattern on her back a bit better, and
2) Turning her over, to examine the pattern on the bottom.

Doing either of those things would fall into the "harassing wildlife" category though, I think.

I checked as many boxes as I could, but still came up with 11 possibilities. I think she may be a Florida Cooter, Pseudemys floridana. Or she could be a slider... Maybe a painted turtle. But I'm leaning towards Cooter.


Submitted to the Friday Ark.


Annie in Austin said...

Bet you just want to be able to say that a cooter laid eggs in your yard, Rurality.

The "Of course, didn't you know that already?" comment reminds me of a few conversations around here, too.

Annie at the Transplantable Rose

NCmountainwoman said...

Glad you came across the pictures. I love turtles.

Granny Sue said...

Even if it isn't a cooter, I'd say it was, just to be able to say the word. Great pics.

Ron Sullivan said...

Heh. I used to have a brother-in-law who called himself "Cooter." Or maybe he was a brother-out-law; I lost track after a while. I thought he was being a bit self-aggrandizing with the name, actually; he was one of those self-made rednecks who hail from Pittsburgh.

Nice turtle you have there, whoever she was.

Rurality said...

Ack! OK I forgot that other thing that Cooter means in some parts of the country. Either it doesn't mean that here, or else I'm so sweet and innocent that nobody ever said it around me! I had no idea anyone used that for a slang term, until I saw the John Stewart show making fun of a festival by the same name.

zenmasterlauren said...

this is so cool!!!!!

zenmasterlauren said...

oh and LOL@ cooter

Annie in Austin said...

After reading your comment, Rurality, I had to go look it up. Maybe you can get to South Carolina next year for the Cooterfest?


mon@rch said...

I probably would give it a little wash with the hose to help ID it! Great finding these guys in your yard! Cool Photos!

Shannon said...

Am I a complete ignoramus or sweet and innocent? I have been racking my brain trying to figure out the slang meaning you are referring to, but I am drawing a complete blank. Don't tell me, I probably don't need to know anyway. I wouldn't want to ruin a perfectly lovely word like "cooter". Cooter. Cooter. Such fun to say.

My vote (obviously) is for cooter, although I'm not sure identification is a democratic process.

Anonymous said...

I think it must be "Turtulus Mommyius", since it was laying eggs! ;)

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed your story. Interesting and it reminds me on how I usually try to identify some birds or wildflowers )

Anonymous said...

Lucky you, our turtles never venture out of the swamp and into the yard!

Cookie Jill said...

There are a ton of turtles in my favorite park here in town (Alice Keck Park Memorial Gardens...aka Alice Keck Park Park)

But there are two that are entirely different and look like armored pancakes with big noses and wide scaly feet.

I'm not good at turtle id'ing...but I tell you, those two flat guys are kinda scary looking when you're used to the other rollypolly type.

Susan Gets Native said...

Cooter. Cooter. Cooter.

Jen said...

It isn't a red-eared slider, as they have the very distinct red pattern on their "ears." I don't know what other kinds of sliders there are.

Rurality said...

Annie, nah, not me! That festival must be the one from the show.

NCMW, I can always tell when Jasmine spots them - she has a specific turtle bark, if you can believe that.

GS, I see you are not as uneducated as I am! :)

Ron, maybe he dodn't know what it meant either?

Lauren, I feel so naive sometimes. :)

Tom, thanks, it probably would have cooled her off anyway. But I'm not sure the hose would've reached that far!

Shannon, I'm glad I'm not the only one. :)

Thimbelle, good call.

Aluajala, birds are a lot easier for me, but I've had a little practice there!

Wren, ours don't make as many appearances as they did when we first moved here. The dog, maybe?

Jill, we have those pancake turtles too, but I don't see them as often. Park park... heh.

Susan, are we going to have to wash your mouth out with soap? :)

Jen, that was the ONE thing I was able to tell that it was NOT. There are lots more though, lol.

lisa said...

Wasn't Cooter a character from Andy Griffith? Didn't he hang out with Goober? (Heh, "Goob and Cooter"!) I couldn't resist an lookup of the word: it's a term for turtles, a character on the Dukes of Hazzard, a punk rock band from Mississippi, the aforementioned festival, and the words "cooter piercings" came up so I quit "asking" since I was at work. Look what that turtle started.... ;-)

lisa said...

BTW: I am the girl whose first grade thru 6th was named "Boner Elementary"...everytime I told anyone the name they smiled or laughed. I was 16 before I "got it". :)