[The Brazil Times nameplate] Light Rain Fog/Mist ~ 56°F  
High: 64°F ~ Low: 48°F
Saturday, Apr. 30, 2016

The scoop on turtles

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Almost daily, I seem to cross paths with either a reptile (snakes, lizards and turtles) or an amphibian (frog, toad or salamander).

That is because they are found throughout the United States and they are currently very active due to the warm weather we are experiencing.

There are roughly 260 species of turtle found worldwide, with 18 of them being located in Indiana. They are known as the most primitive living reptile. Within Indiana, turtles are most active during the months of March through October with young hatching in late-summer through early fall.

Turtles can be identified by looking at five specific areas. Those areas include carapace (top of the shell), plastron (bottom of the shell), face, neck and legs.

One turtle that every homeowner should learn to identify is the Eastern Snapping Turtle because of its nasty disposition.

The Eastern Snapping Turtle is known to inhabit a wide range of habitats.

They can be best identified by looking for its large, long saw-toothed tail, small cross-shaped plastron, large head and sharp curved back. If you see a turtle you believe to be an Eastern Snapping Turtle, please leave it alone so that you can prevent it from snapping at you.

There are two softshelled turtles found in Indiana. They are the Eastern Spiny Softshell and the Midland Smooth Softshell.

You can tell these two turtles apart since the Eastern Spiny Softshell turtle has spines on the anterior border of the carapace and their feet have a strong pattern on them.

Some of the other turtles found in Indiana include the Eastern Mud Turtle, Stinkpot, Eastern River Cooter, Midland Painted Turtle, Red-eared Slider, Spotted Turtle, Blanding's Turtle, Northern Map Turtle, False Map Turtle, Ouachita Map Turtle, Eastern Box Turtle and Ornate Box Turtle.

Three of the more common turtles found locally are the Midland Painted Turtle, Eastern Box Turtle and Ornate Box Turtle. You can tell the Eastern Box Turtle from the Ornate Box Turtle by looking at the carapace. The Eastern Box Turtle's carapace is very high and domelike while the Ornate Box Turtle is smaller and flat.

Like all reptiles native to Indiana, turtles are protected by law.

Legally, to collect and possess reptiles and amphibians in Indiana, you must have a hunting or fishing license if you are 17 or older (unless you are collecting on your own farmland).

There are bag and possession limits established for reptiles and amphibians. It is important to note that no Eastern Box Turtles may be taken from the wild in Indiana due to their decline in population.

If you would like more information about turtles, consider purchasing the Purdue Extension publication, FNR-243, titled, "Turtles of Indiana." This publication is 63 pages long and contains information about identification, distribution and ecology.

You can purchase a copy of this publication by contacting your local Purdue Extension Office or by calling 1-888-398-4636. This publication does cost $10 plus shipping and handling.

As always, if you have any questions or would like information on any agriculture, horticulture, or natural resource topic, then please contact your local Purdue Extension Office at 448-9041 in Clay County or 812-829-5020 in Owen County, or reach me directly at smith535@purdue.edu. Purdue University is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative action institution.

Upcoming opportunities available to you through Purdue Extension include:

* July 15 -- Clay County Open Class Projects Due,

* July 16 -- Owen County Open Class Flowers are entered,

* July 16-23 -- Clay County 4-H Fair, and

* July 17-24 -- Owen County 4-H Fair.