I live, presently, in an apartment complex in Central Florida. My unit faces an artificial pond. It’s somewhat polluted, sadly, but it still maintains a variety of life.
As an animal lover, I make sure to feed the various critters around my unit every day after I get off from work. There are the tall palm trees where the squirrels and several species of birds reside, and I offer them peanuts and sunflower seeds. There are a handful of wary ducks who I offer some slices of ripped-up bread. Unfortunately, they will not come and eat it until I am safely indoors. Apparently, they have a (probably wise) fear of humans.
And, now to the pond. There is a school of small fish that waits loyally for me each evening by the shore, and I reward them with bits of bread and crackers. They gobble this all up vigorously, leaving me to wonder just how they subsisted without me…
Well, while feeding my fishy friends the other day, I was shocked to see two serpentine figures coming directly towards me! At first blush, I was concerned that they might be some sort of poisonous water snake (Florida is not exactly bereft of poisonous reptiles…).
However, a moment later I realized what I had seen was merely the extended necks of two Florida Soft Shell Turtles!
These are magnificent creatures. (Sadly, some people view them as nothing more than dinner…) Unlike a lot of other indigenous turtles, these creatures (at least the female of the species) can grow to over two feet in shell-diameter!
The two I saw were at least 15 inches in diameter, indicating that both were likely female (males are rarely more than 12 inches).
While one was very skittish, even momentarily fleeing as I dropped chunks of bread into the water right near its protruding head, the other was quite friendly. It actually ate the bread right out of my hand!
Those who have no use for animals that aren’t charbroiled or filleted might not “get it.” But for an animal lover such as myself, this was a wonderful experience!
So, now I must add yet another creature to my list of animals I feel compelled to nourish. And that’s a GOOD thing!