For those of you who don’t know any of us personally, I can assure you we reptiles are an interesting group. We have incredible diversity. Reptiles include lizards like me, Curtis Curly-tail, snakes, and the hard-shells (turtles, tortoises and terrapins). Lizards can be small or big, like the Komodo Dragon. Sadly, not all lizards can curl their tails like I do. One who does is Callisaurus draconoides, the Zebra-tailed lizard, I’ve met when visiting Elaine in Tucson, Arizona.
Snakes. What can I say about snakes? They are truly amazing in the way they get around, even climbing, without any legs. Sure, I know some snakes eat lizards like me, but that’s just the way Nature works. I don’t hold their food choices against them personally. We all do our part for the ecosystem. Back home there is the Bahamian racer (Cubophis vudii) who finds lizards tasty. That’s why I stay ever vigilant.
Did you know that tortoises are often confused with turtles? Which is which hard-shell? Can you tell?
I was chatting with my friend Myrtle the other day. She’s started a crusade to help humans with their confusion about hard-shells. Myrtle, for example is a red-foot tortoise, Chelonoidis carbonaria, from South America. She was named Myrtle, a perfectly lovely moniker. Unfortunately, people rhyme Myrtle with turtle. Do you know the difference between a turtle and a tortoise? Many people don’t.
The next time you meet a hard-shell and go to shake his/her hand, look at it. Turtles have webs between their toes. But just because they had webbed feet, that doesn’t mean they all live in water. My friend Trevor Box Turtle is a good example of that. He stays on land and is quite happy there. There are many differences from their finger nails to their shell thicknesses to food preferences to the color of their eyes. Personally, I don’t see how anyone could confuse them.
So Myrtle decided to write a book so you can tell hard-shells apart. It’s called “Don’t Call Me Turtle.” Children really enjoy the rhymes and colorful pictures but adults could learn from it, too. Although…many adults said they couldn’t read a children’s book, so Myrtle may have to write a picture book for adults! Nick Thorpe created some really terrific illustrations. You’ll discover new details every time you look at them.
I encourage everyone to get a copy of “Don’t Call Me Turtle!” You’ll be glad you did. You can find it on Amazon.com or Kindle.
Oh, what about the terrapins? I’m glad you asked. A terrapin is a name for brackish-water turtles. The name was originally used by early European settlers to describe the coastal turtles who neither lived in fresh water nor the sea. Terrapin is derived from the Algonquian word torope, the name for the diamondback terrapin (Malaclemys terrapin).
So, get to know some reptiles. We’re really wonderful!