| Tom Driscoll |
While kayaking at Shaker Bog on a recent sunny Saturday morning, I drifted upon a supersized snapping turtle, apparently noontime-napping or narcoleptic (the turtle, not me!).
As he was facing south into the mid-day sun, perhaps blinded by the light, I was able to maneuver into a north-facing position to arrange a leisurely socially distanced face-to-face visit.
This “Yoda” of New Gloucester turtles was also present last year in a nearby southern section of Shaker Bog, basking on a beaver lodge. Such giants also summer downstream in Sabbathday Lake and often venture into the swimming areas, appearing silently with an aquatically neighborly demeanor, though startling the swimmers upon every sojourn to the surface.
Observing this titanic turtle packing a remarkably weathered shell is unusual, so I reported my chance encounter to the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (DIFW). Apparently, this loner could be about 50 years young (plus or minus), according to Biologist Phillip deMaynadier, Ph.D., of the Wildlife Research & Assessment Section. Some Canadian research suggests that ages up to octogenarian and nonagenarian are also possible!
As the first “officially verified” New Gloucester native snapper (he was lounging in the New Gloucester end of the Shaker bog!), this Chelydra serpentina will appear in the upcoming third edition of The Amphibians and Reptiles of Maine, a publication of the Maine Amphibians and Reptiles Atlasing Project at DIFW. More notoriety in the news for New Gloucester!
We cannot count with certainty the candles for a celebratory cake, so suffice it to say that Donatello of New Gloucester is well along in years and now perhaps our most famous reptile.
Note: URL referenced in this document: https://www.maine.gov/ifw/fish-wildlife/wildlife/species-information/reptiles-amphibians/atlasing-project.html