Sunday, April 8, 2012
Spring in the Kansas Outback is magical in so many ways. Crappie are biting. Morels are popping up. Turkeys are gobbling. And the early garden is really taking off. Its also a time for the first wildflowers of the season and for the many amphibians, reptiles and turtles to begin activity. As cold blooded animals, herps are dormant through the cold winter and with the first warm days of spring, begin to stir. So it is with the state's turtles. I came across these two turtles on the same road yesterday and decided to make them stars. It was a good opportunity to compare as both of these species have hinged lower shells, the plastron. The Ornate Box Turtle is the more colorful with black and yellow lines on its shell. The Yellow Mud Turtle, although with a hinged lower shell, is not considered a box turtle--a turtle which can completely withdraw its head and legs and enclosed itself in its shell. It has a rather plain, brownish-green carapace (upper shell.) Another feature not evident in the video is that the Yellow Mud Turtle can emit a very strong musk which is a defense used to ward off predators--and humans who wish to play with them. Another fascinating day in the Kansas Outback with some of nature's slowest but still very interesting animals.