Last week I had a day off and decided to explore Orlando some. The plan was to hit up the Orlando Muesuem of Art and then bum around the downtown area for a while.
So I get to Lake Eola, which I haven’t been to since I was around ten, and I notice baby turtles slowly hobbling around a ramp and then some more by and underneath some bushes on the side of the sidewalk. There’s a hole in the ground that one is crawling out of.
Sweet! Turtles are some of my favorite animals, and I’ve seen this on numerous animal documentaries, though usually with the sea turtles. These look like some variety of Cooter. The rules are as such: No touching, no interfering, helping of any kind. I can look, but not touch. So I watch…until a grey Squirrel comes down from a tree and picks one up. I figure he’ll put it back down as soon as he realizes it’s not a nut and then be on his way…but then he starts gnawing away at him. I shoo him off and then put the bleeding turtle to the side while another squirrel picks up another turtle and scurries up a tree.
I’m now stuck between not interferring, and saving turtles from being eaten by an animal I don’t believe is even native to florida. I’m just about to hurl a waterbottle at the grey bastard when some park security guy comes strolling by and catches me in a battle stance.
“Yeah…the turtles are hatching.”
“Yeah, they’ve been doing that lately.”
“I’m trying to keep the squirrels away.”
“Ah, they won’t hurt them.”
“They’re eating them! Look!”
“Oh my Gad!”
So from there he starts picking them up while I keep the squirrels at bay. I walk around a bit more to see if anything else is hatching but only find a baby softshell turtle waddling around a dock filled with pigeons. I plopped him into the water and didn’t see any others of that kind.
That’s pretty much the jist of the story. Pretty mudane methinks, but it did leave me wondering if this is normal. Squirrels don’t usually eat meat, do they? I thought they stuck to nuts, fruit, vegetables, and human handouts. Has anyone heard otherwise, or is this a rare case?
This is bizarre. I don’t know a whole lot about squirrels, but I’ve never seen them eat meat before, especially not turtles! I live near there, I might have to drive by and see if this is still happening.
Squirrels are evil (except Rocky). They make me really nervous. That commercial with the squirrels trying to make the car wreck–everyone thinks they made that up, but I think it really happens.
I need to move to someplace with less trees. We have tons of trees, and too many squirrels. They all scream at me when I go outside. I keep telling them I pay rent, so I belong here, but they don’t believe me. And they dig up my plants. But one time they brought me a Christmas cactus and a little green plastic bucket, so I guess it all balances out.
I’d always figured that squirrels could be carnivorous. At least when it came to bugs. It follows that maybe these squirrels figured the baby turtles were just another kind of bug. Or snail. I bet they eat snails too. There’s some crunchy bits and some soft bits, just like some bugs and snails. Maybe they even taste pretty much the same. Squirrels probably don’t take into account the “Aww, cute!” factor when choosing its meals.
Me, on the other hand, would be so into the “Aww, cute!” It would be sad to witness the baby turtles being murdered by squirrels. I would have done as you did, JoeSki, and try to save as many as I could. My hat is off to you for being a turtle hero!
I have a turtle story to share. We were down at Fort Canby, on the north side of the mouth of the Columbia River when we came across a family excercising their pet turtle on a bit of lawn in one of the parking areas. They liked their turtle so much, they’d taken it on vacation with them! Of course, they made sure they had the right accomodations for him in the car and didn’t leave him to fend for himself in the heat or anything. He looked pretty healthy so I guess traveling agreed with him.
I understand about non-interferance, but this situation defnitely seems out of the ordinary, and I am glad you helped the baby turtles.
Squirrels are not my favorite animals. I have been butting heads with them for many years. I almost did not open this thread up because I assumed (correctly :rolleyes: ) that it would be one more appalling squirrel tale–I have a few of my own, including numerous birds’ nests being raided for eggs, and screens being chewed so tomatoes could be stolen from my kitchen window.
My brother said he once saw a squirrel make off with a frantically cheeping baby bird.
I know squirrels can have two litters per summer. Maybe that second litter takes a lot out of them, and by late August they’re starving.
Grey squirrels will raid bird nests for eggs and nestlings, so it’s not all that surprising that they would take other small, vulnerable vertebrates too; I’ve often wondered how, in evolutionary terms, the ‘switch’ happens between animals that eat plants and predatory ones- I guess it must be a bit like this; a common ancestor that was opportunistic and unfussy.
Maybe in several million years’ time, one lineage of the descendants of grey squirrels will have evolved into a sort of fluffy-tailed tree-climbing tiger-analogue, or maybe not.