Amphibians

Reptiles

Three-toed Box Turtle (Terrapene triunguis) - Turtle Races - Harrison 2008

A few observations (in no particular order) from July 4, 2008, by Kory...

  • The event was delayed by 30 minutes due to rain, but the skies cleared very quickly.
  • 364 turtles were raced.
  • All were Three-toed Box Turtles, except for 3 Red-Eared Sliders.
  • Despite being in their historical range, no Ornate Box Turtles appeared.
  • Turtles ranged from large adults to tiny babies.
  • A numbered sticker was stuck on each racing turtle's carapace and a matching sticker was given to each owner.
  • The racing area was marked with chalk as a circle about 30 feet in diameter. An outer circle marked the boundary for the audience.
  • Turtles were placed in a bottomless box in the center of the racing circle, with the box lifted to start a race.
  • Numerous heats were run with about 15 turtles per heat.
  • The first 3 (or 4 in tight races) to cross the finish line advance to later rounds.
  • Two racing areas were used for early heats (run simultaneously), but later reduced down to one.
  • Refreshments of lemonade, popcorn, and hotdogs were provided for free.
  • Three turtles were observed dropped on the sidewalk/pavement (one by an official as he handed it back to its owner after a heat).
  • It took a little less than an hour to complete the racing.
  • Owners brought turtles in all kinds of containers and in all kinds of conditions.
  • Most turtles were left completely unmarked/unpainted.
  • A number of turtles were painted, marked with stickers, or otherwise decorated in some way.
  • Almost no turtles were observed "holed up" in their shells.
  • 14 turtles were left for bank staff to return to the wild. (I spoke briefly to the staff member who was to release the turtles and he claimed to own 35 acres of woodland about 15 miles away where they would be released.)
  • From the announcer at the event and on the website, entrants were reminded to "take good care" of their turtles.
  • With the rain, the pavement stayed relatively cool despite the sun burning through with force as the clouds moved away. I wondered what conditions would be like for the turtles on a typical, 100 degree Fourth of July and also about turtles being left in hot cars as owners went to other activities.
  • According to the website, the first 250 entrants received a free T-shirt.
  • The top three winners got trophies and their picture taken with the mascot, Chester T. Chipmunk.
  • The bank staff were friendly and answered all of my questions. (One of the lady staff members, when I told her I was from AHS, acted like I was from PETA or something. HA! She said something like, "You must not like this very much", which I didn't know exactly how to answer since my attendance was more about collecting facts than passing judgments. She went on to tout the virtues of the races as a community event.)
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