Happy World Turtle Day!

Today’s a big day around our house — it’s World Turtle Day. American Tortoise Rescue created WTD  in 2000 as an “annual observance to help people celebrate and protect turtles and tortoises and their disappearing habitats around the world.” This year I’m going to introduce you to Woody, a North American wood turtle (Glyptemys insculpta) who’s probably nearly 60 years old. George will tell you the story of Woody, and I’ll share some of my photos of Woody with his friends.

Woody and George

George writes: Woody and I adopted each other in April 1990. I was fostering him because his human, Jim, suspected that Woody probably had drowned a turtle that Jim adored. Jim was terribly upset, obviously, and the plan was to bring Woody to the April meeting of the Bay Area Amphibian and Reptile Society meeting for adoption. Jim rang my doorbell and soon Woody was on my kitchen floor. We looked at each other and I said to him, “well, want to give it a try?” Jim was thrilled and so was I, and hopefully Woody was also! He’s been with me ever since. This is Woody hanging out in my shoes with our red-eared slider turtle Borgward.

Woody and Borgward

Woody is his own man, so to speak. He has his regular habits, including harassing any person he chooses to harass. He put me in the Kaiser E.R. one night, but that’s a story for another day. He follows the sun as it makes its way from window to window. He often shares the afternoon sun with Lars.

Woody and Lars

Woody is very social, and when he can’t find anyone to engage with he spends time with the other very handsome wood turtle in the house (his reflection in a mirror).

Woody in the mirror

He leaves his impression on everyone who meets him. Sometimes he leaves scars. I’ll see folks I haven’t seen in years and the first thing they ask me is: ” How is Woody?” Or in the case of my cousin Linda, “You still have that monster???” This is Daisy, the newest member of the family, meeting Woody. She quickly learned that he’s not one of her toys.

Daisy meets Woody

In 1994 after Heidi and I moved into our first home in Oakland, Woody escaped and was gone for eight days. I put posters up everywhere offering a reward. One morning a fellow two city blocks away saw a turtle walking down the street being followed by his dog, and thankfully that ended the worst eight days of my life. Getting Woody back made me whole. He is a constant in our lives. Say what you will, Woody “is”.


Click here to find more valuable information about turtles and tortoises on the American Tortoise Rescue website.

World Turtle Day 2013

Happy World Turtle Day! Started in 2000 by American Tortoise Rescue, World Turtle Day was created as an “annual observance to help people celebrate and protect turtles and tortoises and their disappearing habitats around the world.”

Lars and Woody

This is the legendary Woody, who once ran away from home and was returned to a very distraught George by a young man who found him a street over behind our house.

Pershing and Thelma

Susan Tellem, one of the founders of American Tortoise Rescue, has some great recommendations for things that both adults and children can do to “help to save turtles and tortoises for the next generation:

  • Never buy a turtle or tortoise from a pet shop as it increases demand from the wild.
  • Never remove turtles or tortoises from the wild unless they are sick or injured.
  • If a tortoise is crossing a busy street, pick it up and send it in the same direction it was going – if you try to make it go back, it will turn right around again.
  • Write letters to legislators asking them to keep sensitive habitat preserved or closed to off road vehicles, and to prevent off shore drilling that can lead to more endangered sea turtle deaths.
  • Report cruelty or illegal sales of turtles and tortoises to your local animal control shelter.
  • Report the sale of any turtle or tortoise of any kind less than four inches.  This is illegal throughout the U.S.”

Click here to find more valuable information on the American Tortoise Rescue website.