Handful of Mud and Another True Story

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cdmay

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These are some of the hatchling striped mud turtles produced by my three females this year. I still have five eggs incubating from one of them that are yet to hatch. In this case, its nice to have a handful of mud.

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I think it has been about forty-three years that I have been familiar with this species. My first contact with them was when I was five or six years old and some older kids in my neighborhood were catching hatchlings when searching through aquatic weeds at a nearby lake while looking for grass shrimp to use as bait for fishing. They would let me hold the tiny hatchlings that looked like some sort of weird water beetle. For me it was a seminal moment and from that day on finding a hatchling mud turtle (or a stinkpot which were also commonly found) was always something I would hope for when poking around the lakes and canals that were around my house in South Florida. I would come across them from time to time and would usually keep them for a month or two before letting them go again. But the most memorable find occured some years later when I was about ten or eleven years old.
There was a concrete bridge near my house that most of the kids in the neighborhood would spend many hours fishing from for bream, shiners or bass. The bait most of us used, besides the above mentioned grass shrimp, was bread. From the bread we would make little dough balls to put on our hooks.
One day my mom gave me the single slice of bread she would allow me for fishing each day and I walked to the bridge. At some point I left the bread on the concrete bridge railing and wandered away from it with my fishing pole. Shortly after a crow appeared at the bread and I realized I was about to lose my bait which would at best require a walk all the home to replace. So like any other kid I started yelling at the bird and ran toward it while waving my arms. No good. The crow flew off with my bread---barely even getting airborne with it. But then I discovered that where my bread once was, there was now a tiny lump on the bridge railing. As I walked toward it (I still remember this like it was yesterday) I could make out the dinky shape of a hatchling mud turtle!
Evidently, the crow had caught the neonate muddy just before and was heading home with it when it spotted that fat slice of bread that I left on the bridge. The temptation was too much for him so I figure that he decided to trade up his meal. Or try and carry both things at once.
The tiny turtle was completely unharmed (except for some serious mental stress I suppose) and within the hour was safely inside one of my many aquariums that I maintained in those years.
I kept that turtle for about six months which was about as long as I ever kept any turtle back then and then I released him in some weeds in a quite canal across the street from my house.
Since those early formative years of catching striped mud turtles, I have caught countless hundreds of them and stinkpots. I have also found a great many Florida mud turtles too although not nearly as many. But none were found in as strange a fashion.
 

dreadyA

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stiiinky hands...jk.
Do you have any ponds?
You have great memory,
cute lil ones. Is it me or have you noticed crows becoming bigger &n bigger..i think its becasue of human food they eat.
 

cdmay

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dreadyA said:
Do you have any ponds?
Is it me or have you noticed crows becoming bigger &n bigger..i think its becasue of human food they eat.
Nope, no ponds but lots of big aquariums. As for bigger crows, hard to say. The crow that left the hatchling mud turtle was a boat tailed grackle, or what we used to call a fish crow. But I will say that common crows are more numerous now than in years past.
 

Stephanie Logan

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What a great story you have created from a childhood memory! Reading it was pure joy.:D

It reminded me of the adventures my sisters and I had hunting "horny toads" in Midland, Texas in the 1960's. The world was much bigger then, and full of wonder.;)
 
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