Day 120: The Bog Turtle, As Taught By A Biology Teacher Who Recently Learned That His Girlfriend Has Been Cheating On Him

originally published April 29, 2012

Everybody here? No? I don’t care, we’re starting this lecture.

Today we’re talking about the bog turtle. On our field trip to the Bronx Zoo last week we saw these little things, remember? Remember those little bastards just sitting beside those stupid little rocks like they didn’t have a care in the world? Yeah, last Thursday was a happier time, kids. A much happier time.

The bog turtle is the smallest species of North American turtle. Fully grown they only measure about four inches in length.

Heh. You know what? I’m going to draw what four inches looks like up on the board, because I suspect a lot of people – specifically female people – don’t have any idea what four inches looks like. You see? That’s tiny. Some things are not four inches, they are bigger than four inches, dammit!

Wait… what things? Oh, I was talking about other species of turtle, not… you know what? Don’t put that in your notes, it won’t be on the test. Moving on.

The bog turtle can only be found in the eastern United States. That doesn’t sound too impressive, but believe me, you can really get around a lot in the eastern United States. Some women find the time to get around like hell, and just in the tri-county area! Did I say women? I meant… uh.. species.

The adult turtles weigh around four ounces. They have dark brown shells and dark brown skin. Yeah, I know. Some of you girls really like the fact that they have dark skin. Well let me tell you something. Dark skin doesn’t make a turtle sexier, and it sure as hell doesn’t mean the turtle is going to sit through a Catholic mass and a 5-hour wedding for some cousin that you don’t even like! During the playoffs!

You may have noticed when we visited the zoo last week that these turtles are considered ‘Threatened’, and they’re a protected species under the US Endangered Species Act. That’s because urban development has spread all over their habitat. Because of mankind. And womankind. Because some people just do whatever they want, and don’t care whose hopes, dreams, and domed carapace they step all over.

These turtles are easily identified by the orange, yellow or red splotch on the sides of their necks. You might think of that as a deformity, or a weird quirk, but you know what? People like quirks. People overlook quirks and stay loyal to the… to the turtle they chose to move in with. No Alan, there’s nothing bothering me. Just shut up and take your damn notes.

These turtles are often sold as pets, which is fine for some people I guess. I don’t like the idea of ‘owning’ another living creature. I think it should be up to that creature if they want to share the same living space, be a part of your life, and have a good enough sense of morality not to run off with the first guy who buys you a plate of chicken wings and a double margarita at Chili’s. Or… or some duckweed. Or berries, or earthworms. These, uh, these turtles are omnivorous.

Do you all remember what omnivorous means? That’s right Duncan, that means they’ll eat plants and animals. Can someone tell me some other omnivorous animals? Bears, that’s good, Nat. Right, Helen, raccoons. Yes James, people. People are definitely omnivores. Especially women. They’ll eat a salad, down a steak, then finish off with a warm slice of your fucking soul. Moving on.

Male bog turtles are territorial. Females will also defend the area right around their nests from other females, but when a male shows up she’ll surrender the area right away. That’s right, she’ll just give it up to the first guy who comes along. Let that be a lesson, boys. That shit will be on the test.

There are a few physical differences between the male and female bog turtles, and you should probably write these down. Males are a bit larger. They have more squared-off heads than the females, and longer tails. Because of the way they grow, it’s physically difficult for juvenile bog turtles to mate. So I guess when they reach that right age, they probably can’t wait to mate as often as possible, with as many different partners as they can find. Some people are the same goddamn way.

The turtles’ habitat is usually found among cattails, willows, shrubs, and sphagnum. What’s sphagnum? Oh, that’s a type of moss, basically what we call peat moss. I call it sphagnum because I actually know a guy named Pete Moss. We used to play baseball together. You know, now that I think of it, he came around the house a lot last summer. And he liked those Chili-sized margaritas too. Son of a bitch, I should… never mind, never mind.

The bog turtle mates in the spring-time, which I have recently learned is an extremely popular time for rampant mating among the animal kingdom, especially among amphibian, reptile, and slut species. DO NOT WRITE THAT DOWN! Anyway, the turtle mating session lasts between five and twenty minutes, and the females are completely satisfied with that duration. They don’t complain, and they don’t suspect that some other bog turtle is going to stretch it out overnight. The females also don’t insist upon listening to Jason fucking Mraz when they mate, that’s a big plus for the ol’ bog turtle right there, kids.

Some of the turtles we saw last week at the Bronx Zoo were the result of their successful attempts to breed these turtles in captivity. There was a lot of mating going on in that zoo, and also a lot of mating going on elsewhere. While we were at the zoo. I’m just saying, other members of other species were NO ALAN THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH ME!

You know what? Fuck the bog turtle. When they finish mating, the females and males go their separate ways and never talk to each other again. They have no sense of commitment, propriety, loyalty… I have no time for a species that can’t even be bothered to stick it out and show some fidelity. I’m dismissing class early today. Everyone gets a B+. Let’s never talk about this damn turtle again. Have a lovely goddamn weekend.

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