July 18, 2011
While most folks along the river would be (understandably) upset if you started calling them yellow-bellied, a stinkpot or a cooter, there are a few denizens of the river proud to claim such distinctive names!
Humans are not the only ones sunbathing on and along the Chattahoochee River this time of year. The hot weather and long days of summer send our four-legged friends seeking temperature regulation as well!
Now is a great time to catch a glimpse of some of the many varieties of turtles native to the area. Like all reptiles, turtles are cold-blooded and rely on the sun to raise their body temperatures. Increased temperature helps them digest food, develop eggs, fight off parasites and be more active in general. They're usually not too far from water, though-- being cold-blooded means they can't cool themselves off either!
Look for turtles along the banks of the river, on logs, and along roadways. (Be careful- they don't follow driving laws and can often be found crossing in the middle of the road with no regard for oncoming traffic!)
Ten different species of turtles call the park home- they are the Common Snapping Turtle, Eastern Painted Turtle, Eastern River Cooter, Florida Redbelly Turtle, Eastern Box Turtle, Yellow-bellied Slider, Eastern Mud Turtle, Loggerhead Musk Turtle, Common Musk Turtle (Stinkpot), and the Spiny Softshell Turtle.
The Spiny Softshell Turtle is unique among the others in that they have a pancake-like leathery upper shell (called a carapace in turtle-terms, the bottom of the shell is called the plastron) with spines near the front and a pointy nose.