Rain isn't exactly the weather that causes people to flock to a hiking opportunity, but there were three of us willing to take a chance on August 9th, hoping that the rain in the area would be light and scattered.
We encountered drizzle as we began, but it only lasted minutes, cooling the air and creating a damp lushness in this little bit of wilderness at Marie Myers Park along the South Loop Trail of Knoxville's Urban Wilderness.
Naturalist, Stephen Lyn Bales, picked up the turtle briefly to determine if it was male or female. Males generally have red eyes but that is not always an indicator. On the underside of the shell or plastron, you can feel whether the shell is concave or convex. Males have a concave shape to the lower two thirds of the plastron.
Eastern Box turtles are one of the few turtles that can actually close their shell tight. The upper one-third of the plastron is hinged, making this closure possible. You can see the slant of the upper plastron and the hinged area in the image below. The ability to completely close their shells means that box turtles have few successful predators--primarily raccoons, whose strength, dexterity and sharp teeth enable them to pry open the shell. The broken edges on this turtle's front carapace lead one to suspect he has encountered a raccoon.temperature-dependent sex determination--that is, the sex of the hatchling is determined by the environmental temperature during a temperature-sensitive period that occurs while the embryo is developing gender characteristics.
Blog posts on hiking the South Loop Trail
Blog posts on sea turtles
Stephen Lyn Bales--Nature Calling
Piece-by-Piece--Urban Wilderness South Loop
Knoxville's Urban Wilderness
Legacy Parks Foundation--Knoxville's Urban Wilderness hike descriptions with trail maps