I almost stepped on these turtles beside the walkway to my patio. I had never seen turtles mating before. Have you? I was fascinated by the contrasts. The female is about 50% larger, didn’t move, or even show her head for most of the mating. Finally toward the end, she poked her head out and seemed to look up at her mate as if to say “are you done yet?” Apparently, turtles can mate for up to an hour. Impressive dude! As you can see, the male latches on the female with his claws, pulses his lower body, then holds still, and repeats. I got bored after watching for about 20″. They mate via their tales which are used for both elimination and reproduction. When I came back a few minutes later, they were no where to be seen.
Afterwords, I looked up turtle mating to learn more. These two are common three-toed box turtles, who live all across Arkansas and much of the south and central US. They generally prefer woodlands and prairie near a source of water, are omnivorous, and well adapted to life on land. They burrow during winter, produce anti-freeze, and become dormant to survive the cold. They mature sexually after 5-10 years, have multiple clutches of 2-6 eggs per year, and can live up to 50 years, but typically 20-30 years.
Females can lay eggs as long as four years after copulation! The eggs incubate for about 90 days and the incubation temperature determines the sex of the offspring. Colder temperatures produces males, moderate brings both, and warm produces females. If you encounter a turtle crossing a road, simply observe if there is no traffic. If there is traffic, you can pick it up gently by the middle of the shell, handle carefully, and set it across the road in the direction it was headed about 20-30 feet beyond the road. Don’t move them a great distance or keep them as pets. Both acts endanger them as they have a small home range and if moved, can spend the rest of their lives wandering only to die. As with many animals, loss of habitat is reducing their numbers.
It would be nice if humans learn to live in harmony with the earth’s beautiful and varied creatures. Our only real hope of survival as a species is if we learn to cooperate and collaborate with nature and each other.
May your week be full of tantric moments!