On Saturday, June 5th, I had already made one run on the roads in Pearl River Wildlife Management Area to see if I could spot some reptile action in an ‘easy to get to’ area. Since I didn’t come across a single reptile on the road cruising run, I got out and walked around for a bit and still didn’t come across anything. Every herper experiences those trips where you see NOTHING. I was going to count this quick Saturday morning trip as one of those unlucky trips, when I came across a large female Gulf Coast Box Turtle. Note that this section of road is approximately 300 yards away from the Pearl River and is an area that experienced significant storm surge during Hurricane Katrina around 10 years ago. Most herpetologists believe that box turtles do not fair well in flood events, so I had always assumed that I wasn’t seeing any because the population was hurt 10 years ago and has yet to recover. In looking at this very large lady, I noticed she had the tell tale sighs of just laying eggs (i.e. her back half was very ‘dirty’ like she had been digging), so it made me feel great to know that they are still in the area and reproducing. A disappointing trip instantly turned into a wonderful one….all it took was one box turtle.
After crossing paths with the box turtle, I finished my rounds and came across one more turtle….this time a large female red ear slider. This lady was test digging egg laying spots all over the heavily compacted gravel road. Not finding a good spot to lay eggs can spell trouble for a female turtle and this girl was definately looking in the wrong place. Once I passed by, she moved herself off the road and causally started digging in much better places outside of the path of vehicles and on softer ground. Turned out to be not that bad of a trip.