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Twilight turtle tale

Driving home with E from campus this evening, we saw a turtle in the street. It was at the corner of Curry and Mill, lodged uncomfortably against the curb, traffic whizzing past just inches away — stranded halfway between the green lagoons of the Zoo and Tempe Town Lake, but blocks from either.


Heroically, E leaped out of the truck and ran back to check on it. It was a red-eared slider (I think; I’m no expert on turtles), and as far as we could tell, she was intact. E put her on the floor of the truck between his feet, and we headed to the zoo.

There is a chain of ponds off the zoo parking lot, a palm-lined man-made aquatic environment stuffed with turtles and ducks and perch and algae — a place that could easily absorb another turtle, or welcome back one who had wandered away.

We set her on the rocky shore right at water line, but she just sat there, head and legs still pulled in tight to her shell. Then GLOOP — she launched with a small splash, oaring madly to the bottom of the lake, and was gone.

Posted by Allison on Jun 8th 2012 08:32 pm | 6 Comments
| View close in,natural history,Papago Park,reptiles and amphibians,unexpected category

6 Responses to “Twilight turtle tale”

  1. kate mckinnonon 08 Jun 2012 at 8:53 pm link comment

    Turtle heroes!

  2. Allisonon 09 Jun 2012 at 6:40 am link comment

    Oh, it was E who was the turtle hero — he braved traffic (and going back to see what could have been a grisly sight). I was just the driver/photographer! Hope she’s okay.

  3. sueon 09 Jun 2012 at 3:25 pm link comment

    sort of the same thing happened to me. I live just off busy north-south U.S. 101 freeway, ina semi-rural area. I was driving home along a frontage street and saw a turtle pushing head first againt the cyclone fence barrier between the street and the freeway. I picked it up, took it to a local turtle rescue outfit, they pronounced it a Western Pond Turtle. I drove across the freeway, and up the opposite frontage road to an area directly across the freeway from where the turtle had been stuck against the fence. I set it down in the dried grass and it scooted away across the filed toward the creek a the bottom. The sense of smell for water must be extreme. We were upwind and 200 yards away.

    It felt good to have gotten the turtle on it’s way–maybe it made up for some of the rodents and insects I’ve trapped over the years? or not…

  4. Allisonon 09 Jun 2012 at 9:46 pm link comment

    Sue, your rescue was especially good because it was a native turtle, and not an invasive, like our slider. I’m certain it counts against cockroach squishing!

    I think the females may wander when it’s time to lay eggs, among other reasons turtles get onto roadways. Here’s an article from 2008:

  5. sueon 10 Jun 2012 at 8:37 am link comment

    Allison–I think it must have been a she-turtle; and perhaps an escaped pet, as there is NO natural source of water on this side of the freeway. It’s an ancient sand dune complex with no creeks or ponds. That why we have no deer to ravage our gardens. Just neighbors’ dogs. (and when did hunting hounds become the rage as pets??)

  6. Allisonon 10 Jun 2012 at 9:05 am link comment

    Sue, I cannot figger dog breed popularity trends. Nope, not at all. I like dogs, although I’m not an owner, but it seems to me good ol’ mutts are the way to go. I suspect nationally televising the big dog shows has something to do with these manias.

    It’s amazing how far the females seem to be able to wander in search of a good egg-laying place. I don’t actually like to move them, since it seems like it undoes all their effort (plus since I can’t read their minds it limits my ability to get them to the spot they were seeking), but turtles and other organisms found in places of certain death like roadways have got to be re-directed!

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