Abby's Blog

Wednesday, September 1, 2021
Tommy the Turtle

Hi folks, Abby here. Meet my friend Tommy. I didn’t realize that we were going to be friends until yesterday. You see, Dad built me a grooming table in the garage, and then he made me a ramp to walk up to the table. He lined it with roofing shingles so I wouldn’t slip.

Little did we know that I would be sharing my grooming table with Tommy. When Mom took me out for my morning walk, there was Tommy in the garage, walking ever so slowly up my grooming table ramp. Tommy is a box turtle. I’m sure many of you might have a fondness for box turtles. Here in Arkansas, we learn at a young age that these common creatures are harmless and easy to catch. They rarely snap, hiss or bite like many other turtles, so children are often allowed to keep one as a pet for a few hours or days. Box turtles will quickly eat a meal of fresh tomatoes, cantaloupe or earthworms, and after we’ve enjoyed observing them for a while, they can be released unharmed back where they were found.

You might wonder what is the difference between a box turtle and a snapping turtle? As turtles go, the box and snapping turtles are almost opposites when it comes to their shells. Box turtles have a hinged-bottom shell, or plastron, from which they get their name. The hinge allows the shell to close completely once the turtle has drawn his legs, tail and head inside. This is the box turtle’s main defense against predators. Snapping turtles, on the other hand, have a small-bottom shell that allows the legs to extend out as far as possible, to increase the animal’s speed. A snapping turtle cannot pull his legs, tail or head all the way inside the shell and must rely on other means of defense. In terms of shape, a box turtle’s top shell, or carapace, is domed and rounded, while a snapping turtle’s is fairly flat with a deep groove down the center. I think Mom is grateful Tommy wasn’t a snapping turtle, and gave us quite a laugh when we entered the garage. We took Tommy down to see Abby’s Dog Park, and released him back into the woods. When Mom released Tommy, she saw a rabbit. Oh no, it’s gonna be “The Tortoise and the Hare”.. Bye, Tommy, come back for a visit and maybe some of my friends will see you down by the Dog Park. See you next week. Love, Abby.