One in the hand

Consider this a quick smack upon the brow of Saturday’s journey to the family farm.

While there, we visited a neighbor (in the rural sense, meaning someone quite a distance away).  Her grandson has saved some local wildlife from certain doom (one having been found while “mowing the yard” and subsequently having been rescued).

Keep in mind the farm rests quite near the bayou.  That remains the single most important reason so much wildlife thrives in the area: the availability and accessibility of a major, natural, fresh water system.

Anyway, here’s what we found while helping out a local friend.


Three of these were rescued.  This one, I think, is a male (having seen its tail in detail, although I might be wrong).

The method I used to differentiate it from its two siblings doesn’t apply given the clarification on the species.  Its gender therefore remains a mystery.  But when you’re that cute, does it really matter?

No matter the similarities and regional occupancy, I believe this to be a western painted turtle (Chrysemys picta belli).

As Sven pointed out, this is actually a “hatchling river cooter (Pseudemys concinna).”  I don’t know how I missed that species while trying to identify the little rascal.


While East Texas is well outside its normal range (so far as I can tell), this tiny master of curiosity resembles only one species of this reptile.  The others (eastern, midland, and southern) all fail to describe its marvelous coloring and style.

It does resemble the western painted turtle.  But closer inspection and comparison with photos of the river cooter make clear Sven’s da man for knowing his reptiles.


That’s my hand it’s resting upon.  But resting doesn’t describe it, methinks, for this turtle spent the entire time in my grip by marching about looking for the best vantage point.  Each time it reached the edge of my skin, it stopped, lifted its head to look about, and consumed with minuscule eyes all that could be seen.


That one should give you a bit of scale.  Remember that’s my hand.  To call this creature petite would be to understate things, at least in human terms.

But curious?  Indeed!  I’d call it that with even the simplest of comparisons with the word.  All he wanted to do was get into position to look, to observe.


The fourth discovery, the one saved from the mower, was this three-toed box turtle (Terrapene carolina triunguis).

While I didn’t capture any presentable images other than this one, you need only look at the larger version of that picture to appreciate its size.  The largest picture shows the depth of what it’s eating.  That’s a piece of lettuce.  Look at the leaf’s thickness in comparison to the turtle’s head if you want to fully appreciate how small it was.

[Update] I modified a few bits based on Sven’s comments.  See, I only read the brochure but that didn’t make me an expert!  I’m always happy for someone to give the real answers if they have them.  And now you see why nature is a hobby and not a career; I’d be dirt poor!

7 thoughts on “One in the hand”

  1. (came here from Creek Running North)

    Your turtle pictures are beautiful. Gorgeous color and detail and such personality and charm in that little guy’s face. And I love the perfect little claws.

    They remind me of photographing cicadas this summer during the 17-year emergence. I’d pick one up to take a picture of it and before I could get the camera focused it would be half-way up my arm (or down my shirt, on one memorable occasion). I think they thought I was a tree and were trying to find a nice branch to settle down on.

  2. "I believe this to be a western painted turtle (Chrysemys picta belli)"

    Nope. That’s a hatchling river cooter (Pseudemys concinna), and just cute as hell.

  3. Thanks for stopping by, Sven, and equal thanks for the clarifications. I’m only a hobbyist at this nature thing, so I’m always willing to admit I’m guestimating identifications based on the tourist brochures. Still, how I missed comparing it to the river cooter I’ll never know. Again, thank you for your help!

    Great story, Stephanie! I had to chuckle thinking of a large cicada squirming its way under your shirt. Was there dancing involved? Thanks for visiting, and I do so appreciate the compliment! I love capturing time in a photograph, especially when it shows something this doggone cute.

    Theriomorph, you hit the nail on the head. I didn’t know how the pictures turned out until 14 hours later when I arrived home and looked at what I had. I went all mushy staring at that adventurous little soul traipsing around my hand with fierce curiosity. That youngster puts a smile on my face every single time.

  4. Great photos, and hooray for people who save turtles! (Not to mention turtle habitat.)

    We have four box turtles in the house here, all rescues of various sorts, mostly from incompetent pet dealers. The firstcomer has been with us for going-on-30 years, after being plucked off a busy road in Arkansas and carried home in a shoebox. That was clearly in the days before Homeland Security, but he did get X-rayed.

  5. Thanks for visiting, Ron. I should have replied sooner but have had a very busy working weekend.

    I’m with you: Hooray for anyone who saves wildlife! Seems there are too few of “us” here in the big world.

    LOL! I love the tale of your turtles. And 30 years? Wow! I know reptiles can live long lives, but I find it more impressive that someone rescued one and has given it a good home for that long. Kudos to you, sir!

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