My Pond Turtle

Dearest Gluggy,

I bet you have had the impudence to sit on her highness’s barge.  It is a wonderful craft.  She tows it to the sun and basks for hours diving occasionally and chewing the grubs from her throne making it perfect turtle furniture. It is an honor to have her highness come to live in the pond.

“PonDoc, how do I get a turtle?”  I love this answer: “You can’t, she selects you.”  My turtle has been there for 30 years.  She did not select the pond casually just so as to stay a season.  A turtle selects a pond as a home.  She needs habitat. She requires someplace to bask away from the shore because we all know turtles are delicious.

She is the queen of the pond for this is a matriarchy.  The female pond turtle is larger than her husband.  She is not monogamous.  She attracts a mate in the spring and immediately kicks him out after she produces eggs.  She needs a small mound of pea gravel for a nest. It can be some distance from the pond.  She will dig a tube tunnel right at the sun’s meridian between shade and full sun using her back legs and ovipositor. The eggs are stacked to the surface and covered.  The cooler incubated eggs at the bottom of the tube become males and the warmer incubated, females.  Towards fall, the mother kicks her sons out of the pond.  Between the mother and daughters there is a constant war as to who the queen is and who should leave.

Consequently, there are a lot of turtles wandering around.  They have been known to travel as much as 25 miles to find mates and new ponds.  Being thought of as slow, for their size they are some of the most traveled.

Turtles are reptiles.  Reptiles are universally predators and the most feared on the planet.  Turtles evolved before dinosaurs over 220 million years ago making them one of the oldest reptiles.  In this long evolutionary period, their ribs have become their shells where hard shells are bone and soft leather shells are cartilage.  They are survivors being able to regulate their metabolism burying in mud to rest the winter and catching a fish in a flash after basking.

Gluggy, I know your fear her.  However, she is a just ruler and you are only dinner.  Know your place.  Be a humble green frog giving her the deference she disserves.


PonDoc             from the pond

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