ABM: Taking refuge at the creek

The southern Appalachians have had a drought of rain and box turtles this spring. We have found several by now each spring for the past three years. This year, only two. One is the female we’ve marked as “ABM”.

We think ABM is new to us. Hopefully a run through the Image J image matching system will flush it out. ABM is a female, probably an adult, and almost certainly a “tripod,” as she appear to be missing her rear right leg. Her age is uncertain. Even her scutes – no certain gauge – are worn smooth. On that hot Monday, she was moving along a hot and dry area. She was weighed, measured, and tagged before being released where she was found. I expected her to make hasty to a shady spot. Instead, we were surprised to find her mid-afternoon…


…only a foot away. This time she was hunkered down in a “form,” or temporary shelter. My guess was it was to get out of the direct sunlight without expending the energy to walk deeper in the woods. Two visits in one day were a nice surprise. 

Even more surprising was to find her again on Thursday, almost 100 yards away.

This time, she was soaking in the creek. It’s hard to imagine a three-legged turtle going that far that fast unless she was motivated. A three-day time frame was enough to call for at least a weigh-in. Sure enough, she had lost three grams. That’s roughly the equivalent of a 180-lb person losing just over a pound. Dehydration? Good guess. She clearly enjoyed the soak. We found ABM here again the next day. WOW! Still soaking. Let’s hope that we get some rain, for our sakes and ABM, too.


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