Nebraska: Scaly Signs of SpringBy
The first stimulus to assault my senses when I got out of the car in Bellevue Thursday night was the almost deafening trilling of chorus frogs, a sound that more than any other says spring in the midwest.
And so I wasn’t surprised to hear leopard frogs the next day in Fontenelle Forest, their tongue-clucking quacks another sure sign that winter was over. Painted Turtles, too, emerged as the day warmed, and I glimpsed a snake’s tail disappearing into the grass at one point, too big to be Dekay’s snake and so probably a garter snake of one species or another.
Far and away the day’s most impressive herps, though, were the snapping turtles. Though they probably can’t snap a broomstick or take off a hand–cherished mythologies to the contrary–these animal do attain an impressive bulk in southeast Nebraska, and to see their weird angular forms slogging through the mud is a reminder of a prehistoric past when a foreign megafauna still crept around.
It’s rare, however, in my experience to see a snapper haul out to sun. But that’s just what this mossy-backed fellow was doing.
That’s a very large cottonwood trunk it’s lying on, and the animal’s carapace was well into its second foot in length.
Just what a monster like this eats, I couldn’t say, but I assume that small fish, frogs, even muskrats mind their surroundings when one of these shows up.