4/17 what’s good for snails is good for box turtles…


…is good for Jack in the pulpit.

Actually this post started with the Big Guy (turt #185) in the pic above, who was crunching down on a hapless snail when I found him, the remains of which can be seen hanging out of his mouth.

And then I saw the Jack in the pulpit not five feet away, and remembered something I had read.


Arisaema triphyllum with tiny flower spider onboard

Box turtle #185 and many others have lived in this meadow near a spring for a long time. Jack and many others like it have grown in this meadow for a long time.


Jacks have been reviving in this meadow since we cut down the bush honeysuckle, but they grew here before there was honeysuckle in this forest. And it’s possible that turt #185’s mommy or daddy planted them.


Jacks’ fruiting stalk conveniently flops over to the ground when it’s berries are ripe, making it easy for box turtles to get to them. Every part of the plant contains calcium oxalate crystals, making it potentially unpalatable to some turtles – yet one captive boxie ate and voided over 400 Jack in the pulpit seeds! (that’s what I remembered reading)

We do know that Box turtles are the only known vertebrate disperser of Mayapple seeds (if you don’t count hikers who might snag a ripe fruit). They also eat Pokeweed berries, Spicebush berries, and many other berries. They love Mulberries and can often be found with purple-stained faces near a tree with ripe fruit in our forest.

But back to #185, who had to endure my documentation of his carapace and plastron (top and bottom).


One unhappy turtle

As soon as I released him, he trundled off faster than you would think a turtle could go – not stopping till he concealed himself under the fallen branch in the pic below. This explains why, when you see a box turtle and try to show it to someone else a minute later, it is gone and cannot be found. They wisely head for deep cover once they’ve been spotted.


Checking my record books at home, I noted that he has been seen several times in this general area.  Even found a pic from several years ago, of this same box turtle on top of a female, obviously mating, in the little stream near where I found him!


102_5289 - Copy - Copy

The stream habitat is the key to everything going on in this meadow. It begins as a cold spring emerging from beneath the rock in the pic below. With a bit of earth moving, it’s been restored to hold water in a few pools, and now flows through the meadow year round. A wealth of moisture-loving plants grow around it, making for great snail habitat.


So we circle round and round: stream – plants – snails  – Box turtle – Jack in the pulpit – stream – plants – snails – etc. etc….  Of course I’m missing a million tiny links in-between but you get the idea – pull one link out and the merry-go-round starts to break down.

Watch for more box turtle posts – perhaps I should rename this blog ” Box turtles of Beargrass Creek”


A female boxie, (#186) with a flower stuck to her chin












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