I’m Done with Winter

We’ve had a fairly normal winter until the end of December, then WHAM!! Early in the morning on December 31, we dipped below freezing and stayed there for over a week—200 hours—breaking a record from 1979, and the first week of January was the coldest ever on record.

There was snow on Wednesday, about an scant inch here and more west and south; the lowest it got here in Durham was 3°F, and in Pittsboro with more snow, it got down to 0°F! We finally rose above freezing Monday morning. Tuesday we reached 63°F, and by Friday we hit 73°F—100° above the low just five days prior.

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Common Box Turtle, Terrapene Carolina

Box turtles in the meadow

While I was weed-whacking outside the fence, I uncovered a small common box turtle (Terrapene carolina)—thankfully I was aiming high! Then I found another, larger one inside the fence on a path.

Common Box Turtle, Terrapene Carolina in clover
Common Box Turtle, Terrapene Carolina

She (I think) gave me a stink eye.

I’ve seen a few on roads and such lately, so I wondered when they lay eggs, here is what I found out. Interestingly, females can store sperm for up to four years, so they don’t have to meet up every year. Females dig a hole in the leaf litter and lay up to 11 eggs between May and June. Around 70 days later, the babies hatch slowly and spend the next three to four years under the leaf litter and rotten logs, eating pill bugs, spiders, crickets, etc. After they start going “above ground”, they transition to a mostly vegetarian diet.

Continue reading “Box turtles in the meadow”