Yellow mud turtle, that is. Kinosternon flavescens.
On Wednesday, March 28th, during the one leisurely walk that the boys and I have been able to take this week since getting back on Monday from my visit with Jess in Florida, we almost literally ran across this yellow mud turtle on the path.
Although yellow mud turtles are not the most prepossessing of animals, I still enjoy my occasional sightings of this species. I presume these guys hang out generally in our draw, the lagoon, and/or the neighbor's pond. I usually see them when they venture further afield to look for "greener pastures," so to speak.
The boys saw this guy first. ("Guy" is purely a guess, from his slightly concave plastron, or lower shell.) Of course, Becker's and Blue's first instinct was to nose this odd creature to get a whiff of yellow mud turtle essence. Needless to say, that made him immediately retreat into his shell. Hence the first photo.
It took 4 patient minutes before I saw this fearless adventurer stick his nose out carefully to begin checking whether the dangerous dogs had left the area. (They were on down-stay a few yards behind him.)
A minute later, he'd stuck his head further out and was craning his neck around to explore as widely as possible without actually moving his shell/body. It always amazes me how long a turtle's neck is. And how does he retract it so completely into what seems like a fully stuffed shell?!
A sneeze from one of the dogs caused him to quickly pull his head back into his shell briefly, but he came back out again in a short time and continued his quiet surveillance.
It took 11 minutes from the time I first came upon him until he felt confident enough to extend his legs and continue on his journey. Once he made up his mind, though, he started moving fast to "get the h--- out of Dodge!"...as they say. My first shot as he started up was literally blurry!
Not the most socially adept of animals, it was only a short time until Mr. Mud Turtle had turned away and presented me with only this view of his retreating rear end. A satisfactory end to a brief encounter with one of my fellow inhabitants here on the southern Kansas prairie.