Herpetofauna - One Life's List
Laguna Atascosa Wildlife Refuge, Hidalgo Co., Texas.
February 23, 1994
Bill Sielschott (my father-in-law) and I were walking
down a trail in Laguna Atascosa, heading for the Alligator Pond, when we saw a
small pothole of a pond off to one side. I said "Hey, let's check
that out - looks like a good place for Yellow Muds." When we reached
the pond's edge, we could see the bottom under about a foot of water, and sure
enough, there was a Yellow Mud Turtle in there! I waded in and plucked her
right off the bottom! Needless to say I was feeling pretty smug about the
whole thing - it's not every day you can make a call like that! We took a
few pictures and then returned the turtle to the pond.
I have visited the little pond each years for six years but haven't seen another turtle. Some years the pond was completely dried up. These turtles are shy, secretive, and have a very short activity period throughout most of the year, sometimes as few as forty days in some parts of their range. During periods of extreme heat and cold they remain buried down in the mud. They seem to favor shallow bodies of water. There's a subspecies of this turtle in Illinois, spooneri, a prairie relict trapped in the few remaining sand bottoms along the Illinois River. I haven't seen one yet but I aim to!
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