Turtles

Kids love turtles.  One of the first things many of the young visitors to Fountain Rock Park & Nature Center do is head straight for our turtle exhibits.  They have many questions about the turtles.  What do they eat? Where do they live? How come some are kept in water and others in dirt?  Many, many questions abound in the young minds of our visitors.

According to the Maryland Department of Natural Resources http://www.dnr.state.md.us/wildlife/Plants_Wildlife/herps/Testudines/FieldGuide_OrderTestudines.asp , there are 19 species of turtles in Maryland.  These include box turtles, painted turtles, snapping turtles, sea turtles, red eared turtles, and the northern diamond-backed terrapin among others.

At Fountain Rock Park & Nature Center you can see snapping turtles in our quarry pond. The snapping turtles will come up near the quarry boardwalk seeking food from visitors. Inside the nature center you will find exhibits of box turtles, a stinkpot turtle (named “Axe”), and a painted turtle (named O’Keefe”) . Below, we will briefly describe a few of the common turtles found around Fountain Rock Park & Nature Center.

Turtles live in different places and eat different things depending on which type of turtle. The red eared turtle is one of the more common turtles people see or have as pets.  The red eared turtle is not native to Maryland. However, it is common to find the red eared turtle in farm ponds, marshes and streams with muddy bottoms.  It is believed the red eared turtle was introduced into the wild in Maryland by people letting loose pet turtles they had purchased. This turtle will eat small fish, insects, worms and vegetation.

The Eastern Snapping Turtle 220px-Common_Snapping_Turtle_Close_Upis the largest freshwater turtle in Maryland. If you walk near our quarry pond, you will often seen an Eastern Snapping Turtle gently swimming near the boardwalk. They will also be near the shore and they like to bury themselves in warm mud just below the surface of shallow water. They will eat fish and insects found near the water.(photo from Wikipedia, used with permission under creative commons license)

The Eastern Painted Turtle likes to live in slow-moving shallow water habitats with muddy bottoms and vegetation, including ponds, marshes, lakes, river pools and ditches. It can be found in both fresh and brackish water. Like the other turtles discussed, it will eat small fish, worms, insects and some vegetation.  

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(photo above from wikipedia, used with permission under a creative commons license)

Our resident stinkpot turtle, “Axe”, is a favorite with some of visitors.  As the name stinkpot implies, stinkpot turtles are a type of musk turtle.  They have the ability to release a foul musky odor from scent glands on the edge of its shell. It is believed they release the musky (stinky) odor to avoid predators.  They are carnivorous (meat eating),  consuming a wide variety of prey including crayfish, insects, and snails. They will also eat fish and dead animals found along the waters edge.

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(photo above from wikipedia, used with permission under a creative commons license)

Please stop by and visit Fountain Rock Park & Nature Center.  Our friendly staff and volunteers will be glad to answer any questions you might have about turtles.

The Nature Center is open on weekends:  Saturday 10am to 4pm and Sunday 1pm to 4pm.

The Fountain Rock Park grounds are open 7 days a week starting at 8:00am.

 

 

 

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