Tag Archives: turtle

The Government–A Turtle’s Friend

By Barbara Walvoord

First published in the Lathrop Lamp Post of Dec. 15-21, 2018

“Sarah’s turtle,” a rare wood turtle, was photographed by Sarah Gauger several years ago, as the turtle came to lay her eggs in the loose soil of a Cranberry Lane garden.  Sarah’s turtle is probably still around; wood turtles live 40-60 years.  But her species is dwindling. Development is depriving wood turtles of the unique environment they need: streams (where they spend the winter underwater), loose earth to lay their eggs in spring, and surrounding forests where they spend part of their time.  They need safety in crossing the roads that lie between.  They are vulnerable to pesticides.  They need a varied diet–slugs, worms, tadpoles, insects, algae, wild fruits, leaves, grass, moss, and carrion.

So as Lathrop moves forward with our own development, the government uses several mechanisms to help us protect Sarah’s turtle, and more broadly, our land, its water, and its many wild creatures. Continue reading The Government–A Turtle’s Friend


Lathrop Turtles are Traveling

by Barbara Walvoord

Originally published in the Lathrop Lamp Post, June 2-8, 2018

It’s time to be watching for turtles at Lathrop.  The females are leaving their streams to find nesting sites—loose, unvegetated soil such as gardens.  But they may turn up on porches, sidewalks, or roads. A painted turtle was killed by a car on Mulberry Lane two years ago.

If you see a turtle, let it alone, unless it’s in immediate danger of being hit by a car.  In that case, it’s okay to pick it up by the back of its Continue reading Lathrop Turtles are Traveling

Careful! Don’t Hit a Turtle on our Road

by Barbara Walvoord

( Originally printed in Lathrop Lamp Post,  June 2-9, 2017)

Last spring, Sharon and I found a painted turtle on the road at Mulberry Lane.  Last week we found another one at about the same spot. Last year’s turtle was dead, its shell smashed by a car. This year’s turtle was alive, working its legs rhythmically, hauling its protective shell purposefully across the road.  It knew where it wanted to go, and we had built a road in its way.

Undoubtedly, our turtle has come from a slow moving stream or a pond.  During the winter, it burrowed into the mud at the bottom, or found a muskrat burrow.   While dormant, its body reduced the need for oxygen, so it could “breathe” through its skin, throat lining, and thin-walled sacs near its anus.  Emerging in spring, our turtle stayed near water.  After a graceful courtship dance, in which the male swam around the female, as they stroked each other gently with their legs, the couple sank to the bottom of the pond for underwater mating. Continue reading Careful! Don’t Hit a Turtle on our Road

Living to 100 at Lathrop

by Barbara Walvoord

Not only we humans at Lathrop, but our wood turtles, too, can live to be 100.  A Massachusetts “species of special concern,” native wood turtles (Glyptemis insculpta) live along Bassett Brook.

In this “Year of the Brooks,” we humans at Lathrop are working to protect the streams where our wood turtles have spent the winter buried in the mud.  Emerging now, they’re dancing on the sandy banks.  Potential mates approach one another slowly, almost touching noses, and then sway their heads from side to side, dancing for several hours before mating underwater. A female may do it with multiple mates. In June, the female may travel quite long distances (for a turtle) to find just the right stream bank spot for her nest. After laying eggs, she and others lumber off to forests, fields, and wetlands for the summer. Continue reading Living to 100 at Lathrop