I am one of the lucky ones that bumps into wildlife on a fairly regular basis. In the course of my fifty-five years, I have encountered wild hogs (more than once), untold numbers of salamanders, lizards, and snakes (the Timber Rattler being the most memorable), horned toads ad infinitum, possums, hedgehogs, on and on. I am always grateful to see them and leave them alone. However, I have had two encounters with turtles recently and, while I certainly enjoyed meeting them, they did not reciprocate.
The first one I saw was in the middle of the street not far from where I live. He was about the size of a softball and was a little more than half-way between retention ponds. No doubt he had heard that one of the ponds had either a) more food, or b) more female turtles. He didn’t say. He was right in the middle of traffic, though, and I had a pretty good hunch that his shell would not stand up to a 3,000 pound Chevrolet. I asked my son to pick him up and speed his way to the pond he appeared to be heading for. He did so and that really riled Mr. Turtle. He hissed and fussed and carried on something terrible for one whose life was being saved. I can’t speak turtle but, if I could, I am quite certain that all that hissing and fussing was a profanity laced tirade directed at the youngest of my offspring. Soon as he was safely re-located, he calmed down pretty quick and went on his merry way.
The second turtle was really small. He was the size of one you might pick up at a pet store. What had happened was we had gone to a community band concert in an open amphitheater. The grass seating area had about 200+ people sitting and enjoying the concert. My wife and I sat in the middle of that area. The concert lasted right at an hour. As 200+ people got up, packed their lawn chairs and picnic baskets, one little girl of about eight said, “Look at this!” There in the grass among all these people was a little bitty turtle and he was agitated. He’d probably been stepped on and was now just trying to get “outta Dodge.” There is a creek not far away from us so I decided to pick him up and relocate him as we had done for his larger friend. When I did that, he let loose a venomous series of turtle threats that I am sure would have made a sailor blush. He wiggled out of my hands twice until I finally covered him with both hands and headed for the creek. All the while I was carrying him, he was wiggling and carrying on and threatening my very life if I did not put him back where I found him. I put him under a bridge and he took of as fast as his little feet could carry him.
You know, neither of those turtles said thanks. They’re foul mouthed too. Bet they don’t act that way at home.