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Back stroking Box Turtle

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Posted by Glenn on June 03, 2001 at 21:57:29:

Today my son Brendan and I went to the Cold Spring Trout Hatchery in Cold Spring, NY where there was a Herp Fair. We displayed several herps along with other members of the Long Island Herpetological Society (LIHS) and had quite some fun. Despite the fun, after being there at our display table for a few hours things did get sort of boring, so we went around looking at other animals, including other displayed herps of the fair, the hatchery's trout and other fish tanks, the hatchery's indoor display of local herps, and the hatchery's outdoor turtle display. This broke up the day pretty nicely. On one of his trips to the hatchery's outdoor turtle display, Brendan saw a Box Turtle that he though was in dire distress or dead. He immediately ran over to me, and told me there was an orange turtle on its back, not moving in the turtle pond. I went over and was surprised to see an Eastern Box Turtle in the deep water, floating belly up. It was not dead as Brendan had thought, but was quite alive and craning its neck to keep its head above water while calmy floating belly up and watching the world go by. Every now and again it moved its legs a bit as if doing the back stroke. I had seen this guy earlier out atop a slider that had been basking on a log in the middle of the concrete tank/pond. The box turtle had to be pretty adventurous to get to that position atop the other turtle on the log because it had to swim to the center of the tank in about three feet of water far from the dry area of the display. My guess is that it fell in belly up when the guy on the bottom moved off of the log, and either he was exhausted by the time we saw him (from trying to get right side up), or he was truly enjoying this new view of the world (and he really looked pretty calm as he backstroked at a leisurely pace).

Knowing that he was probably exhausted and not enjoying his belly up swim (as much as I would like to imagine that the latter was actually the case), I sent Brendan to get one of the hatchery's workers. The young lady came over and scooped the turtle out of the pond with a net, set it right side up and put it back into the water. It swam on its merry way right to the base of a small water fall where it swam under the tumult for quite a while, once again courting danger, before making for higher and safer ground.

Brendan then decided to buy a bucket of trout chow to feed the trout and got a free bucket (saving $4.00) because of his good deed. All in all it was a good day for the trout, myself, Brendan and for the backstroking Box Turtle.

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