This little box turtle was Alice's trophy of the day. I was quite surprised to find a turtle here. Having grown up around lakes and streams, I've always thought of turtles as water creatures, specifically the snapping kind. Not so! This little girl is a box turtle, specifically an Ornate Box Turtle, a terrapene ornata, to be precise. And you might well wonder how I know it is a girl. Well, Alice's treasure sent me on a mad and all consuming hunt for any and all information pertaining to the terrapene ornata. For example, I know this is a girl because she has yellow eyes (the boys have red). Females may lay 200 eggs in a lifetime but only a handful make it to adults. There are almost always 4 toes on the hind feet and these are dry land turtles. These turtles are considered endangered in Wisconsin and are the state reptile of Kansas. I did not even know that states have state reptiles. Birds, sure, but reptiles?
I think you can probably see what happened to my afternoon. Alice spent the afternoon looking for the turtle. She is not the sharpest knife in the drawer. Bob spent the afternoon napping on the deck. In fact, he was completely uninterested in the turtle. Far beneath the attention of an old dog with serious napping to do.
From the look of the mud on the little girl, it seems Alice probably rolled her around a bit before I got to her. Fortunately, she's a box turtle which means she's constructed with a hinge to slam the front door shut over her head. I did not know this before today.
She's been safely relocated on the other side of the fence where there are no dogs. Last time I looked she was long gone, so I'm pretty sure she suffered no lasting damage.
Now I'm off to fill out my box turtle sighting report. Yes, it is true. Texas Parks and Wildlife wants to know when and where you've seen a box turtle.