Stuck

A painted turtle crawls on a pathway, looking for a way to exit

Now, there’s a face that begs for anthropomorphizing.

Eyebrows raised, with a calm, resigned-to-her-fate demeanor, she must be thinking, ‘hrumph.’ A more excitable species might be musing in swear words. Not the unflappable painted turtle.

The lady had plenty to gripe about. She had meandered onto our walkway, the one lined with landscape timbers and punctuated with steps. And she was stuck.

I found her boxed in a corner, where I gave her a re-direct nudge. But her compass seemed to point in only one direction, earning her a narrow view of freedom, but no escape to the woods below.

Belly of a painted turtle, which bears a beautiful design that gives the creature its name.
Painted Turtle Belly-National Park Service Photo

Painted turtles are quite lovely. Watching her snail’s pace maneuvers gave me plenty of time to appreciate her vibrant colors.

I did a little Google inquiry as she picked her way across our bricks and learned she’s the Michigan state turtle. I also found a National Park Service photo of her underside, as wary of those claws, I was not particularly willing to expose my visitor’s belly for the camera.

 

Here’s a snip of the twenty-minute, turtle-barely-moving video I took. I didn’t film the turtle’s escape, opting to give her some relief from predator fear (me). I thought she might feel freer to explore her options more widely. Sure enough, a half-hour later, she was gone and presumably safe.

This took place in early June, so her meanderings may have included some egg-laying. I hope so! I’d love to see more of these creatures, and next time, I’ll recruit a friend to tilt the turtle so I can film that gorgeous underside myself.

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