Monthly Archives: October 2022

Brief Observations on Turtles

Over the years I have written about many different types of animals on the ranch. Never before have I written about turtles. Recent observations that proved surprising to me compel me to share two observations about red eared sliders.

During my morning feeding rounds that include stops to feed fish at the stocked tanks, I’ve noticed an increasing number of turtles. The increase in the number of turtles may relate to the drought we are currently suffering. As the fish diminish, the Red-eared sliders increase in number.

This is what one looks like (not my picture, taken from internet)

I’ve noticed the turtles hear my approach and a large number of them begin paddling toward the shore. Surprisingly, they lately have always had mud on their backs. I assume the turtles are burrowing down into the mud as a survival tactic during the drought. In any event they sense my approach and have learned that I am there to spread fish food. They aggressively compete for the fish food.

The more surprising aspect has been that the turtles, at least the most adventuresome among them, have begun to crawl out onto the bank and literally next to my feet. I throw or drop fish food that they readily devour. Now who would have ever guessed that turtles would chase toward a person with a food bucket? They feed aggressively and seem to recognize me on my approach.

Below you can see my shadow with camera at the ready, snapping pictures of the approaching Red-eared sliders. A curious Survivor Duck stands by observing.

Even more surprising the other day I came upon one turtle that was upended. The turtle lay on its back struggling to right itself. I watched for several minutes and could tell the turtle was having no success in righting itself. What happened next truly surprised me. Now Red-eared turtles are not supposed to be social. They largely ignore one another.

In this case of the upended turtle another Red-eared slider crawled up next to the upended turtle and began to pressure upward with its snout against the upended turtle’s shell in an attempt to right it. Imagine, a turtle coming to the assistance of another turtle?

After several unsuccessful attempts I approached and righted the upended turtle. It quickly scampered back into the pond.

To my surprise I learned that these Red-eared sliders sensed my approach with food and came begging. Even more surprising was when I observed one turtle come to the rescue of the upended turtle. I suppose animals of the same species will sometimes assist another. And of course examples exist where animals of different species will come to the assistance of an animal not of their own species. These observations I thought sufficient to add to this blog.