Late spring means turtles are on the move

1 month 3 days 13 hours ago Monday, May 21 2018 May 21, 2018 Monday, May 21, 2018 3:47:00 PM CDT May 21, 2018 in News
By: Tim Schmidt, KOMU 8 Meteorologist

COLUMBIA - The spring season is officially here, and we are just days away from Memorial Day weekend. That means Missouri wildlife is out and moving in search of food, much like the box turtle.

Over the last week or two, you may have even seen numerous turtles out crossing roads or even nibbling in your garden. This is very normal and a natural sign summer is on its way.

Have you ever asked yourself, why are there so many turtles on the roadways? The answer is simple: turtles love sunlight! The pavement not only provides an open area for turtles to lay out, but a warm surface for the turtle to regulate its body temperature.

According to the Missouri Department of Conservation, turtles require an abundance of vitamin D in their diet, especially ultraviolet light. This, along with malnutrition, is often why it’s difficult to keep box turtles as pets.

Turtles are constantly on the move searching for insects like crickets and worms, but also love fruits and berries like strawberries and tomatoes, hence why they love your garden!

There are nearly 17 different species of turtles native to Missouri. The most popular is the ornate box turtle and the three-toed box turtle. The average turtle, not disturbed by predators or humans, can live up to 50 years!

Now that they're out in full force, you should also watch out for aquatic turtles, also known as snapping turtles! These turtles are not frightened easily like their box turtle cousins and can become aggressive. If you come across an aquatic turtle while fishing or swimming this summer, it is best to leave it alone.

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