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Forget baby turtles

Last summer my dog seemed to be having an existential crisis on our front porch. Her tail tucked between her legs, slightly shaking backed legs betrayed her perked ears and barking. She alternately pranced toward several flats of native sedges and quickly jumping back in retreat. To pounce or not to pounce...

The culprit of her angst sat perched on top of a flat of sedge, a large female snapping turtle, not at all conflicted about the situation. Mama turtle had strayed away from the creek to find a good nesting site. Last year while weeding near the pond I found a small turtle the size of a silver dollar. Apparently mama was back enjoying the native garden. Mirroring the conflicted feeling of the dogs, my teenage boys picked up the turtle carefully and ran it into the forest away from harm. Mama turtle tried desperately to twist her neck back and snap off their fingers.

It should have been no surprise shortly thereafter to find many dollar sized turtles in the pond. They were enjoying what had started as thousands of toad tadpoles, quickly reduced by snakes and turtles. I found several that perished, but we also see little guys make it to the creek and try desperately to swim against the current.

In its second season the pond, which takes in stormwater runoff in lieu of direct drainage into the creek, has become an ecosystem within steps of the backdoor. Everyday a new surprise for discovery. There is no better education than that.


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