Since box turtle patterns are said to be as unique as fingerprints, I've decided to see how many different individual box turtles I can identify on our 10 acres.
My memory is that they range over about 5 acres and they are not strongly territorial, so more than one can be ranging over the same territory or overlapping it significantly.
To help me in identifying and remembering them, especially while I'm out walking and away from the computer, I'm breaking my normal rule of thumb and personalizing them with names, where those names make sense. Here are a couple males that I've tagged so far....
Sam Spade is named for the spade-like mark on the back of his shell, an enlargement of the dorsal line there. He's a big, colorful male that I've seen twice - in about the same 50' area - in the last couple weeks.
Don Quixote is named for the wounds on the back of his shell. He's smaller and not very colorful - at first I mistook him for a female, since his legs show little coloring. I'm guessing that the scars are from a run-in with a lawnmower. I found him last Thursday morning, down on the path in the draw.
The third male that I've found hasn't been named yet, as I haven't noticed anything strongly unique about him yet. He's very colorful and good sized, with less marking overall than the other two. I last saw him about a month ago.
Interestingly, all 3 of these males (and several females) have been in the Cedar Grove/Draw area. How far away will they travel from this central location? Will there be a seasonal pattern to their travel? Has the drought changed their patterns this year? Will I see the same individuals from year to year? Lots of fun questions to answer!