Posts Tagged 'turtles'


Trachemys scriptaThe all too-common Red-eared Slider (Trachemys scripta). Note those neck line patterns. TurtleOn the same day, close by, was this specimen. This one differs by having the yellow line go up past its eye.TurtleAnd by having an oval shape on the neck. Missing, too, is the red stripe behind the eyes which give Red-eareds their name. The stripe can fade with age, but this one is not so large/old. Still, I can’t figure out what species this could be if not a RES.

Two Turtles

How wonderful to be away from the tyranny of the Eastern Red-eared-slider! Great Swamp NWR management in fact urges you to report sightings of these invasive creatures. Meanwhile, the Swamp offers up several native species of turtles. Chrysemys pictaOn our recent trip, we saw a lot of Painted Turtles (Chrysemys picta).Chrysemys pictaNot unknown in NYC waters, the Painted has these beautiful red markings on its body and shells, with the plastron (covering the belly) having the most elaborate patterns.Clemmys guttataWe saw a single Spotted Turtle (Clemmys guttata), which was once the most common species in the NYC area. I’ve never seen one here in the city. (The species is now one of Special Concern in NY). Clemmys guttataThe spots are on the body, even the tail, as well as the shell. Hatchlings generally have one yellow spot per scute, with more developing with age.

Young Snap

Chelydra serpentinaFour, count ’em four, Red-eared Sliders (Trachemys scripta) were basking in the tiny, northernmost pond on Pier One at Brooklyn Bridge Park the other day. Fools keep releasing these invasive, potentially disease-carrying pet-trade animals. Some do it for religious (!) reasons! The effects of all this can be seen in the water course in Prospect Park. There were three dozen RES basking recently in the Pools. (I once counted 70 in the Lullwater.) Two Painted Turtles, a species native to the region, were seen among the most recent crowd, but the real discovery this day was this young Snapping Turtle (Chelydra serpentina).Chelydra serpentina I’ve seen snappers as little as a silver dollar and as big as a Fiat — no, make that a minibus — but not in-between, at least here in Brooklyn. Glad to see there are other generations in the mix. Chelydra serpentinaThe carapace (top shell) was about 6″ long. Snappers aren’t normally a basking species — but the winter was cold! — which is why it’s hard to say how many young ones there are in the park.


Chelydra serpentinaA young Snapping Turtle (Chelydra serpentina) tests the air. Neither a wizened old warrior the size of a European subcompact nor a silver dollar-sized baby, this one was about 4″ long. Chelydra serpentina

Morning Stretch

IMG_5694Upward-facing turtle, with a keen eye on the photographer.

Frog, Turtle, ‘Gator

Lithobates catesbeianusBig Bullfrog (Lithobates catesbeianus).Chelydra serpentinaBigger, much bigger: Snapping Turtle (Chelydra serpentina). Possible looking for a place to exit the water and lay eggs (you need another reason to enforce the leash law in our parks?). Judging by the shell, I’d say I’ve seen this giant before. Also, even enormous Snappers start small; here’s a baby I found in Mass a couple of years ago.Alligator mississippiensisAnd much bigger still: an American Alligator (Alligator mississippiensis)Alligator mississippiensisSteady! Not in Brooklyn. Spotted on my Texas trip last month.

Basking Turtles

turtlesA pile-up of turtles. But not all of these are Red-eared Sliders (Trachemys scripta elegans), which dominate the waters in Prospect Park. If you look closely, you’ll notice one of the shells is rather smoother than the others, and, although out of focus, its red highlights on the underside sing out “Painted Turtle” (Chrysemys picta).Chrysemys pictaHere’s another, one of half a dozen amid the dozens of RES. A gorgeous shell, I think you will agree (no filtering here, btw).Chrysemys pictaAnd another. The most Painteds I’ve ever seen in the Lullwater.Chrysemys pictaLots of flaming red underneath, the Painteds, but no red on the head. (Older RES tend to lose their red “ear” mark, though.)turtlesAre you ready to pick out the Painted now?

This one, however, is baffling me:turtleBeautifully patterned carapace. Note how smooth it is in comparison to the gnarly RES one.turtleAny ideas on what this is? The park’s waters are used as a dumping ground by fools and idiots, as in the case of this never solved soft-shell I spotted last October.

Texas Testudines

Gopherus berlandieriTexas Tortoise (Gopherus berlandieri). Very fond of eating tender cactus fruit. scutesI also found the skeleton of one of these elsewhere and pulled off a few of the scutes to get some detail.Trachemys scriptaNice to see Red-eared Sliders (Trachemys scripta) in their native region. Trachemys scriptaHere’s a recent hatchling, about the size of dollar coin.Apalone spiniferus emoryiTexas Spiny Softshell (Apalone spiniferus emoryi).Apalone spiniferus emoryiThis one was less than a foot long; they can get much bigger.

And another skeleton: Ornate Box Turtle (Terrapene ornata ornata), I think.7

Softshell Mystery

ApoloneI spotted a snouty silhouette in the Lake the other day.ApoloneIt was a turtle of a type I’ve never seen before. The snout suggests some kind of softshell, although the shell doesn’t look so typical for those turtles. I queried Twitter and there were suggestions it’s in the Apolone genus, creatures that live in our South and Midwest. In which case, it would be another victim of the PPT (Pernicious Pet Trade) and the irresponsible consumer who dumped it here. Another suggestion was that it’s the Chinese softshell, P. sinesis, perhaps originating in a Chinatown fish market. But the eyes seem like they are in the wrong place for that. So it remains a mystery… your Testudinal expertise is welcome. The length of this critter is 6-7″. ApaloneSoftshells get their name from their shells, which are unlike the hard bony cases of the turtles we’re more familiar with up here. The face, with its pyramidal snout, is obviously different, too. And on this specimen, the claws are almost fully webbed so that they look more like paddles than feet.

The Morning Rush

rush hourNot exactly going anywhere at the moment.


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