The Muse Of Herpetology is certainly working for me lately! On my way to Baxter State Park (more on that gruesome saga later), I spotted this Snapping turtle. Back in the old days, when Christ was still in nickers, Chelydra serpentina was known as Ograbme. As you know, I can find beauty in most anything, even writhing, fornicating snakes. But Chelydra here is just a beast. They smell; they pee and poop if you try to pick them up (DON'T!), emit musk, skulk around in the mud and are covered in algae, which you can see on this one's tail. On the end of its tongue is a growth that looks like a worm. Nnnnnnice! They open their mouths and wiggle it to bait fish. And, more good news: they gulp baby ducks from the water's surface. They look like a slimy miniature dinosaur with malice in their eyes. In the water, they are quite docile, but on land they can be a as viscous as legend has it. Everything looks like food to them. They eat anything, even carrion and can bite off a toe or finger easily. They have long, sharp claws, too. Seriously, do not try to pick one up unless you have a snow shovel with which you can scoop it up. I won't even go into the mating, because even I have my limits. Like the snakes, though, a female can hold sperm for years to fertilize her eggs before she lays them. They can mate any old time and can lay eggs every year without mating. They lay eggs in sandy soil, digging a hole into which they lay 40-80 eggs, then bury them and leave. She's a warm and fuzzy mom, indeed. The eggs hatch in 9-18 weeks. If the eggs are laid late enough in the year, the baby turtles may overwinter there. People keep them as pets. WHY?????? Because they can, I suppose. As my mother used to say, "There is no accounting for taste." Speaking of taste, people do eat them. It's legal, but the just desert is that they taste like mud which even heavy seasoning can not disguise. As the largest freshwater turtle, they must live in an aquarium, which would have to be huge. In captivity they can reach 75 pounds and live for fifty years. Just say commitment. If you decide to hook up with Chelydra, Ohgrabme and love me forever! Now if only she would wear plaid.
Oh ya! Isn't she pretty?