Another “tripod”? Thoughts on local population density

Well, we have seen more evidence that the turtles are beginning to move after the dog days of August. We were walking along the creek when we happened to glance back and…


…this guy had crept into the trail behind us. It never ceases to amaze how these guys can manage to “hide in plain view.”

He’s just a handsome guy, turtle-wise.


At a glance, the males typically have much more colorful heads and legs than females. The males usually have bright red eyes. When you look underneath…


…you’ll see a very distinct “dish,” or concavity, in the plastrons of males. This guy was a healthy 557.7 grams, by the way.

Even though he kept his hind shell closed firmly, you couldn’t help but notice that he has a void between his plastron and carapace on the left rear side.IMG_8469

We didn’t try to force the shell open, but a little gentle probing indicates that he’s a “tripod,” or is missing one of its legs. It’s not the first tripod we’ve seen in the neighborhood.

This is a good time to recap some of our observations about the neighborhood box turtle population. We arrived in the summer of 2013 and found only one turtle for months. We saw some elsewhere but not here. We never saw one on our own property until October, 2014, when “Salvador” popped out when we were surveying storm damage. Since then, we’ve found four adults – including Salvador – and one juvenile. Those have popped up in a space of less than seven acres. We haven’t systematically surveyed the lot but our observations indicate that a) the box turtles have bred here recently, b) we have breeding age/size turtles, and c) the density of at least five turtles in around seven acres could be pretty good relative to the 1-3 acre home ranges seen elsewhere. The future (and the turtles) will tell us more.


2 thoughts on “Another “tripod”? Thoughts on local population density

  1. Pingback: The Adventures of “ABL” – and some good news! | Mountaintown Naturalist

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