Photos by Murray Head
Red-eared Slider covered with Duckweed -- Turtle Pond, 7/1/08
Mystery Turtle photographed on the grass of the North side of The Turtle Pond on Sunday [6/29].
The photographer noted:
But what was it? I wrote Chris Lyons, a Bronx naturalist and asked if the June 29th turtle was possibly some kind of Red-eared Slider. He answered:
It's no kind of slider at all--it's unquestionably a box turtle, but I'm no herpetologist, and I'm not sure even one of them could make a positive call about the species on the basis of these photos--according to one field guides [I've looked at] , you need to look at the plastron (undershell), number of toes, etc.
Most likely it's an eastern box turtle, but it's a box turtle, no doubt, end of story. And I hope it's not the end of the turtle's story, because Central Park is not a friendly habitat for these guys. It didn't get there under its own steam--somebody let it go. People are weird--I saw a woman 'exercising' her box turtle in Inwood Park. She sat on a bench while the turtle kept trying to walk through a fence across the path from her. I didn't get the impression there was a really strong bond going on there. Pretty one-sided relationship, I'd think. ;)
Why Chris believes an Eastern Box Turtle didn't get to Central Park under its own steam:
There are Eastern Box Turtles that occur naturally in New York State, but they need lots of room and natural habitat--they are carnivorous when young, then turn vegetarian as adults--I've seen them eating mushrooms.