Painted Turtle Love

Holy Wisdom MonasteryFriends of Wisdom Prairie, Nature Notes 2 Comments

Submitted by Julie Melton, Friends of Wisdom Prairie and Sunday Assembly Member

Remember painted turtles at Lost Lake basking on logs months ago? When they sense danger, they simply slide into the water and swim away. Some days you can see their noses poking out of the water.

In winter they are living under the ice. With very slowed down respiration, they absorb dissolved oxygen through their skin. If the oxygen level drops too low, they absorb carbonate from their bones and skull which prevents them from dying by asphyxiation. Meanwhile, fall hatchling turtles and unhatched babies winter in nests on land. The glycol-like fluid that replaces water in their cells keeps them from freezing solid. Turtles will appear again as soon as the ice begins to melt around the edges of the lake and the air warms.

Turtles can live for decades if they survive into maturity. Painted turtles mature at about six years old. In the spring or in August, when a male painted turtle is wooing a female, he will swim backward in front of her and wave his foreclaws around her head, stroking her snout and chin. If she chooses him, she will swim to the bottom of the lake, and he will follow. Turtle love.

Female turtles leave the safety of the water to dig a shallow nest on land. If she has to cross a road, she may be killed by people driving. She risks death from cats, dogs and other mammals. If she makes it, she lays round, soft shelled white eggs and leaves them to be incubated by sunlight and warm air. Turtle eggs are an important source of food for crows, herons, racoons, muskrat, foxes, snakes and chipmunks. Most nests are completely destroyed. The few hatchlings that survive must get to the lake where they are prey for fish and cranes. Precious few survive to adulthood.

In spite of all the dangers, turtles have existed for more than 200 million years. Mature turtles can live for decades. Lost Lake and the Barn Pond provide the perfect habitat with plants, worms, slugs, snails and insect larvae food. We are privileged to have these gentle creatures living at Holy Wisdom. They represent the life we care for when we care for the earth.

Comments 2

  1. I love walking around Lost lake and seeing the turtles lined up on a log. I watched them long enough one day to marvel and take a video of on of them making many many valiant attempts to go from the water to the top of the log. I never thought about dow difficult it is for a small creature with web feet to climb up the side of a wet log to bask in the sun. Amazing! I also am amazed that they winter even as babies under the ice.
    Thanks for the article.

  2. WOW! Julie what an enlightening and gentle story of these mysterious creatures who live such calm and soothing lives in the magnificent piece of this spectacular universe that you and your friends of Wisdom Prarie have done so much to renew. Thank you.

    I have always believed that turtles are natural mystics. Most often we just focus on our human species’ attributes and ‘efforts’ to meditate. We work ‘hard’ to ‘slow’ our minds, hearts, and souls. Did you catch the oxymorons in these statements? Of course, I’m very well aware of the commitment it takes to let ourselves learn to go into and find our natural state of mindful meditative quiet. I’ve been allowing myself to explore and discover the state of freedom to be who we all are naturally.

    I’ve been consciously allowing that for over 40 years and yet still I am a baby. That’s just what I need to allow myself to be. Have you ever observed a baby in the crib or even at the age that the baby can sit on their own? I have seen them looking with what appears to be focused attention as they observe the dust particles floating in the beam of sunlight. As I’ve deepened my journey with meditation I have had vivid memories of being in my crib and silently observing nothing and everything and just breathing in the quiet of it all. Fantasy? I don’t think so.

    Again, Julie, Thank you for triggering so many memories that bring me a certain kind of peace that allows me to float in the Divine Now of eternity. Dennis

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *