The Snapping Turtle

One of the things they have in Texas that we didn’t have out in California are box turtles. During certain times of the year, when these turtles are feeling the call of nature and plodding about looking for love, they tend to wander onto highways with disastrous results. One of my in-laws at the time who lived up in Oklahoma, knowing about my affinity with reptiles, stopped on a highway and rescued one of these turtles and brought it down for me.

It turned out to be a female and we named her Shelly. She lived in a large 50 gallon plastic tub, and became quite the pet. For some reason the turtle really liked my ex-wife Becky, and would follow her around the house, which is how she became attached to it.

Since we liked Shelly so much, we ended up with another one, a boy who we called Fred. Then, about a year or so later, in-laws made another delivery … that of a whole slew of young ones, our favorite of which we named “R.B.” (which stood for “road bump”). Needless to say we as a family became adept at taking care of turtles and keeping them healthy, and our kids were very fond of these creatures.

Then one day my younger daughter, then only 6 or so years old, came in to tell us she found a great big turtle out in the playground. I was thinking, “Oh no, not another box turtle.” We already had too many!

I was not prepared for the monster which awaited me out back in the playground. This was a full blown, genuine, meaner-than-mean Snapping Turtle which had wandered up from the creek. I had read about snappers but had never actually seen one in person. Tell you what, it looked like Godzilla with a shell. I kid you not! It literally reminded me more of a lizard than a turtle.

It had a big, long tail, long legs, and a long snake-like neck with the infamous snapping jaw. Not a turtle to fold itself into its shell – it was so mean, nasty, and tough, it wouldn’t need to.

I got my video camera out, and actually have footage of it chasing me. Dangling the camera strap down at it, it would snap at it with such lightning speed that it startled me and I fell right off my feet. The neighborhood kids laughed hysterically, including my own, as I scrambled around the thing while it nipped at my toes.

Finally, using badminton rackets, we managed to herd it into a big plastic storage box, and I drove it down to the local creek and dumped it back in. I was so glad Jessie had come to tell me about it instead of trying to pick it up, like it were one of our little box turtles. It definitely would have bitten off one of her fingers!

From Tales of the Lizard Hunter
By Jerry J. Davis

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