Driving home Sunday evening, we passed an object on the road. At first I thought it was a bike helmet! But as we drove by we saw, in fact, it was a turtle. We stopped and turned around, and as we waited to safely pull over we cringed as we watched numerous cars and trucks dodge the little guy/(gal?).
I was able to pick up the creature–probably a nesting female–and return it to the side of the road, where I noticed that the poor thing was bleeding. I ran back to the car to consult with my husband, and we decided to attempt a rescue. This, however, was a snapping turtle, and rather cantankerous, now that she had recovered somewhat from the shock of the four-lane road. (Did you know they jump?)
At any rate, we took her home, and got her somewhat comfortably situated in an unused recycling bin. The next morning, we called the Toronto Wildlife Centre, and they advised us to put a wet towel in the bottom of the bin, and some kind of a lid on it. The purpose of the towel, to give her some moisture, and the lid to reduce her stress.
Since they’re a non-profit organization, they asked us to bring her in, which we did later that day. What a fabulous educational opportunity! Our kids saw baby squirrels and possums being hand-fed (although they did so with a cloth over their eyes, so as to prevent them becoming bonded to humans and a menace once they’re released). We also had the chance to see the skull of a snapping turtle and some preserved snapping turtle eggs.
Each child received a wildlife sticker, and Sweetpea, whose heartfelt desire is to find an abandoned baby bird, picked up a pamphlet called, “I Found a Baby Bird, How Can I Help?” Too perfect! The pamphlet, a lot of the information from which can be found here, gives kids a ton of information about birds and how to live in harmony with them in an urban environment.
We also learned two new words: precocial and altricial. Precocial refers to birds who nest mostly on the ground and who are born with down and leave the nest early, able to feed on their own, altricial to birds born naked who nest mostly in trees, and who depend on their parents for early feeding and survival.
My husband was much more reluctant about the rescue than I was, and I have to credit nature study for my willingness to jump in and get involved. Another reason to love homeschool!