gavindr

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In short, I need some help identifying the species of a turtle or tortoise I saw as a kid on some land I inherited in the far northwest corner of Kansas. It had a tall shell and slight fluted humps to clear its legs. The shell was solid dark olive green. It looked like a smaller turtle hiding under a WW2 helmut. It didn't stand so I don't know what it's feet look like, geez, sorry. I know that's critical but I didn't think I could pick it up and I thought it needed to eat or rest. Not be traumatized.
My aim is to get some babies and gown ups, breed them and learn so I can reintroduce some marriage material to (perhaps) the offspring of that big turtle and get their numbers up. Turtles are a blessing on the land, and they bring good luck and bless the land if they are happy. It was my grandparents land at the time and they had a lot of compassion for the little creatures. My brother just didn't have the same genes as me or something. Anyway, I'd like to know it's diet as there aren't a lot of fruits and vegetables laying around on the dry brown prairie. In fact, the only thing that lays around on the ground to eat is cow poop, fire ants, bugs. I just spent all day writing about why I believe that cow poo and rabbit poo is my best guess for growing a turtle up huge like the one I saw. It's the perfect turtle survival food. If turtles ate grass, how'd they chew it up? Look, they just aren't equipped to roam the prairie cutting, mashing up the hard dry "buffalo grass" and digesting it with an enormous enzymatic bacterial disintegration tank of a belly like cattle, but the image sure makes me laugh. Rabbits are small and they get along but they are busy all day cutting, chewing, dropping turtle pellets. I believe it lived smart. It used animals to cut, chew, process the vegetation and begin the bacterial breakdown and conversion of cellulose to sugars and proteins. The cow's digestion is pretty good but consider all the people on earth who flatten and dry cow turds and use them for fuel. There's tons of concentrated energy in a fresh, steamy cow turd and it's all warm and ready to go down. No chewing required, as if it could. I bet it's turtle heaven for a frigid reptilian tortoise in the morning. It's the breakfast if tortoise champion survivers. The turtle likely has more powerful bacteria at it's disposal too like salmonella. It doesn't get sick on it but it's so active, it'll make a cow turd like a glass of milk and orange juice. It's instant energy.
One commenter on here said that his turtles would wait until the dog poop was gray and falling apart before the turtles ate them. See? They know exactly what they're doing. The turd is sitting there in the sun, bacteria is breaking it down further and further until it loses the stuff it didn't want anyway and what's left is perfectly broken down and soft. Dog's saliva kills many "germs" so it may be waiting for that saliva to break down before it can use its own arsenal of reptilian bacteria to finish that cake off. For a creature without teeth, what do you think it eats in the wild? Carrot juice? I'm deleting the rest because it's so long. It's just a plausible theory. I'll be feeding them turtle food.
I just need help to identify the turtle so I can start and do it right. I don't want to introduce some kind that can't live there.
OK, I moved its description to the very start because I went a little crazy about writing. It's exciting to have people to write to who are turtle heads. I'm just a turtle but. Once I learn more and get some to hatch, maybe I'll be awarded a turtle head sticker.
My sister and I as kids, took a walk in our grandparents pasture one day near Norton Kansas, far north west corner of Kansas. It's a very dry place, but the terrain is less flat than you're probably thinking if you've had the misfortune to drive across the state. We saw a really huge turtle that day and it stuck in my mind ever since. I've always had a fondness for turtles. Now, I want to help them breed before I die.
The turtle had a tall, smooth, unmarked, green shell with light fluting around the legs. It looked like a WW2 helmut, I thought. It did not show me its feet, so I'm sorry for the lack of that info. Yes, I said this at the beginning but at first it was just down here where people quit reading. I can't say if it was a tortoise or turtle but it's too dry for a turtle, unless it lived in a pond upstream, or the creek downstream. There used to be a lake made by digging out a place where large sections of land drain into and then the dirt was made into the dam. Water leaks around the top and the whole thing really needs fixing even 40 years ago. But it could have lived in or near what was left of it. It still held some water. When it rains the frogs or toads come out and croak like crazy and there are tadpoles in every pond and some actually grow legs before the pond dries up. There's also a creek down stream from the turtle about half a mile. It may be that it sensed the storm and began walking upstream along the side of that gulley like that. That matches the direction it was facing at the time. Ok, so it could be either one, a tortoise or a type of pond turtle. When I see pictures of the Blanding's turtle, it reminds me of its shell shape and solid olive green shell. He had a very calm disposition, even though this rainstorm must have been pretty scary. Every little feature of the earth came alive with water. Every ravine and draw, gulley or even what were once cattle trails long ago, were now torrential waterways. I'm sure it remembered many of these so that explains its calm. I came close and he just poked it's head closer to take a look. I think that's when I fell in love and I went to the house to find something for it to eat. It must have been through a lot that night. I couldn't find it when I returned with food. I've hoped ever since that it didn't jump in the water. That was dangerous water. He may have just hid behind a fencepost and dug a hole. No clue.
What a tenacity for life !! I have so much respect for that turtle. I hope it's still alive but that'd make it 70 years old. I hope it has offspring. Well, I don't have any offspring so I'm giving him offspring one way or another.
Can anyone tell me what kind of turtle this was by the location, description of the turtle and it's rugged living environment? How did it survive SO LONG? What has it been eating all these years, in other words? There's nothing to eat. it's so barren. I mean, NOW it's barren. I sincerely thank anyone who reads my story and I hope we can identify what turtles or tortoises are native to this location and maybe we can narrow it down from there. THANK YOU ALL
 

Hamiltondood

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not sure what turtle youre talking about but it's maybe a red eared slider since theyre VERY popular in the wild. since you said it was green, it's probably an aquatic turtle. maybe a box turtle since they are semi aquatic. sorry if i'm not much of a help since i mainly focus on tortoises 😅 i DO know that turtles are strong enough to rip grass out of the groud to eat it. it might have eaten weeds, manure (like you said), and flowers. if you do manage to raise turtles, make sure they're the right species.
good luck!
 

gavindr

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Richardson
not sure what turtle youre talking about but it's maybe a red eared slider since theyre VERY popular in the wild. since you said it was green, it's probably an aquatic turtle. maybe a box turtle since they are semi aquatic. sorry if i'm not much of a help since i mainly focus on tortoises 😅 i DO know that turtles are strong enough to rip grass out of the groud to eat it. it might have eaten weeds, manure (like you said), and flowers. if you do manage to raise turtles, make sure they're the right species.
good luck!
You're right ! It was green so yes, it must be an aquatic turtle. Could it have sensed the rainstorm and then walked up out of the creek and up the bank and was blocked by that draining "danger water", as I call it because it was a small narrow but normally dry gulch, but then it was draining water to the top of it's banks and really going fast. so it found that and says to himself, "danger waters, keep climbing" or something, LOL, and just kept walking until he felt safe again and maybe he did just decide to take the plunge by the time I found him. It would be a fast trip back to the creek and he could have had a blast on his way to the lake 15 miles downstream. Or, maybe he got washed out of something upstream from that gulch, like that pond. My brother says that when he was little, that pond was huge. He says our dad brought a boat and they water skied. 8 years later (when I was born) it was full of dirt. It's easy to see why the land is so sand dune looking from afar, but when you walk it, every place between dunes is cut deep by water runoff. When it rains it pours but it rarely rains. I bet the settlers found this terrain to be VERY DIFFICULT to travel on by horse and wagon. I can't imagine it. Every piece of land, my grandpa named by the people who used to own it and lived there. His neighbor I think I mentioned, they've got a boy a year older than me. One day by motorcycle, he showed me several houses on their land that had been hand built and later abandoned. It was so fascinating. Stairways were really narrow and the headroom was short. People didn't eat like we do today, that's certain. For that house to still be standing out in those 60 mph winds without windows to the present, that had to be difficult labor. My dining table came from an old house on a parcel of land my grandma bought. It's a well built expandable table. Well, the battle for survival and some dignity, if possible, is, or certainly was, a life or death business for human and terrapin alike. And you're right about vegetation. I'm sure they go by what smells like good food. I know that changes for me daily, so a turtle's subconscious gives him his purpose for the day, to find what his stomach wants. Cabbage often settles my upset stomach. Maybe the plants down at the creek, when it's not a danger zone, would be a beautiful place to find all kinds of things to eat. Not a gre!-
 

gavindr

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I just learned that I have 15 minutes to reply. I fell asleep. Tough day. The turtle was green so it must be aquatic but it could not be a red anything because there was no red anywhere. Red sliders are popular today but they are not native. I've never seen an aquatic fresh water turtle with such a tall shell in my life. I've never seen any freshwater turtle this large before or since. This just raises more questions because I based the poo diet theory almost entirely on the assumption that it was a tortoise. That's why I came here. Not until you pointed out that tortoises don't have green shells did I realize that I've never seen a picture of a green tortoise. So I'm not sure if I'm more lost...no, I'm more curious. It's so unique by its size and shape, as an aquatic turtle. I wonder if there are some green tortoises, just rare ones. Wow, I gotta say. You've really added a lot just by pointing that out. A green shell but a tortoise like body. Maybe it was so large that I only thought it was tall like a tortoise. Oh, that's right. It sat flat on the ground, no legs visible !!. If it were ANY tortoise, it'd have longer legs. It's got to be aquatic, period. Thank you for pointing that out.
 

gavindr

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Anything here look familiar? The Great Plains Nature center put this little pocket guide together.

-Meg
WOW, THIS IS TOTALLY AMAZING. HA HA. I'm speechless. This has so much information in it. How many other states have pdf books like this? It's a real treasure for people who love life, in the biological sense. The small creatures are the barometer for global health. I think it's terribly important to make sure we keep every one. Thank you for this. It means a lot. A LOT. If I can't find it in here, it might be a traveller. I've seen species out there that don't belong. By brother had a moped and I was riding on the back and going slow but something zoomed across the road at the wrong time. I feel bad it happened but the critter was a kangaroo rat. That species is way far from its normal range. I guess we don't know until one is spotted. It must not have been nocturnal that day. There was something else ...come on brain... well anyway, It would be VERY cool to have some nearby state's amphibians too. It looks like it includes creatures from a wide range as it is. THANK YOU. I'll really enjoy this. Now, I'm not going to want to write ridiculously long messages, ....oh, I know y'all will be disappointed, not. LOL. I'm going now to read that book. Thanks a third time. You are amazing.
 

Srach

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Aug 22, 2019
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Arkansas
Your descriptions "solid dark olive green" and "WW2 helmet" make me think of Three-Toed box turtles I've seen! Some have yellow markings but some, especially older ones, will just be an olive color all over. And their shells are pretty high-domed compared to fully aquatic turtles. Eastern Kansas is in the western part of their range. (You would also have Ornate box turtles in Kansas but they have distinctive markings.)

For example, here's one I helped across the road last Sunday (in Arkansas):
 

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Markw84

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@gavindr

From what you describe, and going by location, I would bet your turtles was a Western Painted Turtle. Chrysemys picta bellii

That is the only turtle that fits everything you describe without getting into an introduced, non-native species. They can be quite green as an adult and is the only turtle truly native to the northwest corner of Kansas that is even close to your description. Red-ears are native to the southwest 1/2 of Kansas, and are also normally browner/darker as they get older. The same is true of the River Cooter native to the southwest 1/2 of Kansas.

If you want to go by a native turtle to that area that fits your description, it has to be a Western Painted Turtle.
 
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Madkins007

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My first thought was Yellow Mud Turtle. High domed shell, solid olive green, smallish size, lesser known (so harder to ID) species. Location is about right as well.
 
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