CJ has been going on all week about the 'critters' that may or may not be invading his new house (he claims that there was a critter in his garage; he DID find a big frog in his kitchen).  When I got home this afternoon to let the dogs out, they immediately went to the back porch and started raising a ruckus!  The hair on Lil' Bit's back was standing on end, and she was pawing at something. Upon closer inspection, I found a Deirochelys reticularia!!

Also known as an Eastern Chicken Turtle, these turtles can be found from Virginia to Florida, west to Missouri and Texas, including, obviously, Youngsville, LA.

Here is an excerpt from the eNature.com website:

Migrates between aquatic habitats or seeking areas to burrow into the soil and escape dry conditions. Males generally travel around farther than females. Social, spending much of their time basking on logs and rocks and swim in small groups. Hibernate in the soft mud, but only in the northern part of the range, and vegetation of bodies of water. They are known to be timid and if caught they generally will bite very easily.

Of course I knew that they bite, having grown up here, but did the dogs know?  They all reacted differently to the turtle:  Violet wouldn't go near it; Tucker sniffed once and then backed away (she's had her run-ins with turtles before!); Lil'Bit was barking constantly, crouched down with her cackles raised; and Mannie showed NO FEAR!!  She almost got her nose snapped!

This turtle was fairly 'bulky', measuring about 8 inches from tip-to-tip.  I couldn't find an area at the bottom of the fence that showed signs of a forced entry, so I put him in the front yard (out of the reach of the dogs).  He found his way to my yard, so I guess he'll find his way back to the coulee.  Right?

 

What's the strangest thing that you have come home to find?  (No Tiger Woods jokes, please).  I can't wait until April Fool's Day comes around again; I am thinking of rounding up a few snakes and slipping them into CJ's garage!

 

(Via eNature)