I Brake for Turtles.

Do other people have an irrational love for some odd little portion of the biosphere? Is there some part of the wilderness that you have no reason to feel any particular affection for, and yet you get all excited about?

Or is this just another thing that makes me slightly different from the rest of you along with a fondness for humus, bicycles, cargo shorts, and the harmonica?

Not many people know this, but I have an extreme fondness for turtles. Call them whatever you’d like; turtles, tortoises, terrapins… whatever I love them all. Turtles have little enough to endear themselves; they are slow and clumsy on land, they have tiny brains and little/no personality, they have no mating calls or dances, no bright colors, they bite, and they can transmit salmonella.

And yet despite all of those true things about turtles, they are among my favorite wild animals. Perhaps it’s because they have remained virtually unchanged since the Paleozoic or maybe because despite the odds stacked against their survival they quietly go about it (turtles don’t make noises or calls) anyway.

I have no desire to keep a pet turtle. They are messy eaters and they stink when kept indoors. Instead, I love to find turtles in the wild and squeal in delight whenever I see one bumbling or paddling along. Such was the case this weekend when I was on my way to a soccer game when I spied a box turtle sitting in the middle of the road. I have already seen more than enough of squished turtles this year, so I skidded to a stop and parked Alice (my road bike) right in the middle of the lane in order to stop traffic and picked up the little guy and carried him to the far side of the road.

I’m sure that I looked more than a little ridiculous; a large man in a soccer referee uniform gently carrying a turtle to the edge of the road. In fact, I’m reasonably certain that if I was one of the motorists forced to stop and watch that guy, I would have yelled several unflattering things out of my window. Regardless, I was buoyed by that Nature Winkie high for the rest of the day.

Likewise, I think that abusing turtles (even if they bite you) should at the very least be a Punchable Offense. Some turtles of course are endangered species and messing with them carries quite a stiff penalty already, but even those turtles which are comparatively common like box turtles, red-eared sliders, painted turtles, snapping turtles, etc should have some protection. If you injure or kill a turtle, someone should be allowed to punch you. Where and how hard would have to depend on the particular case of course, but a punch would definitely be in order. I bet people would think twice about painting their shells and running them over!

So do my Faithful Readers have irrational loves for wild species?

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3 thoughts on “I Brake for Turtles.

  1. AMC

    I too love turtles. They might not care weather I live or die and they do bite, but they are just awesome! I often feel misunderstood in my turtle obsession and I am glad to have found another sufferer of herpephilia. Alas, they do smell pretty bad, and so I no longer have my own, nor do I see them in nature here in the Sacramento Valley. Thank you for sharing your turtle story so that I can live vicariously through your turtle exposure!

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  2. Dayna

    I have had many near death experiences saving turtles including putting my car in park and getting out ON highway 24 (not my brightest moment but I saved the turtle)

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  3. It is also important to note that you have passed your love of turtles on to your daughter. Maybe this is the real reason why I married you. Ask my dad about the time I made him stop the car in a torrential downpour on Country Club Rd. to move a turtle out of the middle of the road so it would not get squished. I was 5 and he listened to me and did it, another reason why I love my dad and I love you!

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