Previous Page Photo-Diary of a Terrapin Researcher  Next Page

Don Lewis, Massachusetts Audubon Society,
Fox Island Wildlife Management Area

Who Set the Alarm Clock for February? — 7 February 2001

Yesterday afternoon residents spotted a 7–8 year old female terrapin plodding out of Chipman’s Cove, heading onto the beach.  She is a still immature female less than 12.5 centimeters plastron length and weighing only 472 grams.  She probably will not reach nesting maturity until the 2002 season.

Still groggy, she sports the telltale brownish stains which indicates recent withdrawal from her muddy hibernaculum.  Now, February 6 is not the date one expects terrapins to begin sashaying around the shoreline, especially out here at the end of the universe.  So, something unexpected woke her from slumber.

Her right eyelid swelled from an abrasion and her carapace showed cracks and scratches which appear to have been caused by a raking instrument.  (Yesterday brought an invitingly low tide for mucking on the tidal flats.)  With no open wound nor bleeding, the best bet seems to be trying to induce her back into brumation.  She’s being kept in a cool, dark, but comfortable environment, so with any luck, she can resume a well-earned winter rest.