Tag Archives: alligator snapping turtle

Critters in the pool

Part of the “excitement” of owning a pool is to discover what I might find it on any given morning. It is long established that I can tell the time of the year by the plant material there. Pine needles, live oak leaves, pine pollen and oak seed pods all have their seasons.

The big surprises are the animals. One day, Mrs. Poolman looked out to find a family of mallard ducks, complete with the babies. Fortunately, they didn’t stay long because to paraphrase the old saying, “Does the duck s*it in the pool?”

This week I found this little guy. A fiddler crab is no big deal around here, but I am mystified how he got there. It is nearly a mile from any habitat that would support him. That’s a long way to hike for a dip in chlorinated water.

The biggest excitement came several years ago when I walked out on a Saturday morning to find a very large alligator snapping turtle in the pool. This picture is not of MY turtle, but it does represent how attractive he was.

An alligator snapping turtle or Macrochelys temminckii which is Latin for big, nasty, mother f____

If you are not familiar with the species, you should know that they are not nice, cuddly creatures. They are mean.

I took my pool net and chased the sucker all over the pool. He was not interested in being caught. Eventually, I was able to get under him and flip him up onto the pool deck He was a big one, with a carapace (shell) a good 15-18 inches across. My plan was to use a cardboard box to carry him down the road to a pond. I went to pick him up with my hands on either side of the shell. I expected him to just pull back into the shell and let me do it. Wrong! He stuck is VERY long neck out and came back across the back of the shell to get a piece of me.

Mrs. Poolman was watching all this out the kitchen window. I yelled for her to come and help. She shook her head “no” so violently, I think she wrenched her neck.

I eventually got the turtle into a box and down the road to the pond with no further damage. I am certain the turtle did not appreciate the life-saving favor I had done for him. Ingrate!

Turtle rescue

While I was on my home the other day, I called Mrs. Poolman, as I usually do to see if she needed anything picked up at the store on my way home.  It was her off day. When she answered the phone, she said.

“You need to hurry home. There is a giant turtle in the street in front of our house.”

Writer Princess was over for a visit and took this photo with her cell phone.

Our reptilian visitor

My first thought that it might be an alligator snapping turtle. We had one in our pool a few years ago and that was quite an experience getting rid of him. They are big and they are mean.

When I asked her to describe him, she was only able to come up with attributes like, “big” and “has a shell.” As Mrs. P said, “He’s a turtle. What do you expect out of me?”

When I got home, I found this guy had apparently crawled up over the curb and was up against my house, behind the bushes. It turns out he is a “common snapping turtle.” He didn’t look very good. He was very lethargic. (Then again, how energetic are turtles? I don’t know.) And his eyes were very rheumy looking. He didn’t try to bite me. He stayed out of his shell and tried to climb out of the cardboard box in which I put him.

We put a plastic crate over the top of the box to keep him in and drove him down the street a few blocks to a small patch of woods with a small stream. (Mrs. P drove, because when I asked her to sit in the back seat and keep Mr. Turtle from escaping from the box, she looked at me like I was a creature from outer space.)

We released him in the woods. He didn’t look very good, but we did our part to protect nature. The rest is up to him. Good luck, Mr. Turtle.