In the spring the box turtles move from the west side of the road to the east side. In the fall they go the other way. Both ways the turtle determination to get across is remarkable.
People don’t think about wildlife movements when they put in roads. This is true all over. My road is a good example.
The road is cut into the sides of hills leaving it lined with steep slopes and deep ditches. Some of these have close to vertical sides. Brush cutting keeps the vegetation down leaving bare dirt in many places.
Coming home the other day I spotted a turtle heading across the road. I stopped and watched as it was walking briskly.
Three toed box turtles aren’t really turtles. They are tortoises and have stout legs. They don’t live in water. They are vegetarians.
Then I realized it was headed for one of those almost vertical bare dirt slopes. With true turtle determination this turtle tackled the slope.
Dirt slid down under its feet. It kept on climbing. The next dirt avalanche took it back to the base of the slope.
Turtle determination took the turtle back to the attack. This time it angled across the slope and ended up under exposed tree roots.
I went over and picked up the turtle. It promptly retired into its shell. I placed it at the top of the slope and waited.
Several minutes went by. The shell rocked as the turtle peeked out. Then it slid down the slope.
Copying turtle determination I picked it up again and placed it more securely at the top of the slope. And waited.
The clock ticked. I had to get home soon as sunset was approaching. Chores needed doing before dark.
A head came out. The turtle looked around and saw me still standing there. It watched me as I watched it.
Finally I had to leave. Since I didn’t find the turtle at the base of the slope the next day, its turtle determination had taken it further up the hill to its winter quarters.
More wildlife essays are in “Exploring the Ozark Hills“.