Like many gardeners, I'm so busy in the garden right now. There's so much to do -- weeding, planting, transplanting, cleaning -- it's easy to forget to stop and take a look at what's going on around you.

Luckily I get reminders once in a while, like this box turtle that happened to be in the right place at the right time and caught my eye.


I don't have much to say about this turtle except that I've seen box turtles moving through my yard since the first year I lived here, way before I started gardening.

This one was playing it safe at first, which is typical turtle behavior of course

It's always a thrill to discover one in the garden, especially away from the compost pile -- I'll find turtles back there feeding on melon rinds or similar throughout the summer. I make a point to throw those on the ground at the base of the pile to give them a chance to feed, and will toss the turtle-nibbled rinds up top after the turtles have eaten.

But finding a turtle in other parts of the garden is always surprising!

This guy seems to have something bad happening in the mouth area. I tried searching for what it might be, but there are a host of afflictions that pet (captive) box turtles come up with so I didn't have much luck. Mouth rot? A fungus?

Is it just remnants from a messy mushroom meal?

I'm so glad to have noticed this visitor to my garden -- or is he a resident?

Anybody have any idea what the mouth issue is?


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Salty Pumpkin Studio  – (May 21, 2014 at 12:12 PM)  

Turtles can get sick like humans do. I thought it might be ich, but search online at a turtle forum says they don't get ich. Vitamin deficiency? I'd search online before going to a vet. This time of year pond scum and plant rot might not be agreeing with the fella.

Gerhard Bock (Succulents and More)  – (May 21, 2014 at 12:35 PM)  

Amazing! Where they do go in the winter? I've never seen turtles here.

Alan  – (May 21, 2014 at 1:48 PM)  

Maywyn: as a wild turtle, this guy is on his own. I suppose if I see him again and he still has the mouth issue I might try to do something about it.

Gerhard: I believe they burrow into leaves and loose soil to hibernate. I wouldn't be surprised if they hibernate in my compost pile and surrounding areas, because a lot of leaves get dumped there in the fall.

Lisa  – (May 21, 2014 at 9:59 PM)  

We are on a turtle migration path, too. Except we get snappers. Big ones. The kind you don't mess with. We did have a small painted turtle in the pond briefly last spring - we keep hoping he will return, but so far no sign of him.

As for what is bothering this guy? No clue. And he's a bit closed-mouth about it... : )

danger garden  – (May 22, 2014 at 12:09 AM)  

Okay I have red dragonflys but you have turtles!!!

Mark and Gaz  – (May 22, 2014 at 3:28 AM)  

I don't know what the mouth issue is but it's so cool you have turtles in your garden!!

Alan  – (May 22, 2014 at 8:56 AM)  

Lisa: Yeah, glad these are just box turtles! Closed-mouth about it... hehe. :)

Loree: what I really, really want are lizards. I'll settle for snakes, but a lizard sighting would be the ultimate!

Mark and Gaz: I have a herpetologist taking a look, so I'll know next week at the latest if it's something to worry about or if he is just a messy eater.

Alan  – (May 23, 2014 at 3:53 PM)  

It's been confirmed by an expert: this is just a turtle with bad table manners -- it was just food remnants on its mouth. :)

Jamie K  – (June 9, 2014 at 3:15 PM)  

Perhaps he just finished shooting for a "Got Milk?" ad.

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