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Added Jul 08 2014

I came across this turtle crossing the path on the north side of the river, in Eugene Field Park. Shortly after, s/he went north into the nature area.

Searching for a place to lay eggs? Looking to get away from the river? Moving from Albany Park to North Park? If this is somebody's pet you can come and pick him up - if you can find him.

I know you're supposed to stop for pedestrians crossing the street, but are turtles pedestrians?

  • Budlong Woods neighbor Chicago girl for life

    There are turtles in and around the river. I have seen some occassionally in the park by me although not quite that big.

  • Wow!!! Looks like a snapping turtle to me...

  • It's a snapper, watch your fingers ;)

  • I know about 15 years ago I seen a HUGE turtle on the river bank as I was walking across the bridge on Pulaski, I wonder if its the same one? LOL My son and I always tried to find it again, just assumed it swam down stream or went into the swampy area in Gompers

  • Dan on Monticello Neighborhood Guy

    That looks like a big snapper indeed. I live right against the park's fence and found the remains of a pig painted turtle (16'' long!) this spring near the pond water's edge.
    Just yesterday, i found a live one stuck on the parking curb in the road that rings La Baugh Woods parking lot (set him free in the river).
    And last summer, another painted turtle plopped down on the asphalt biking lane in River Park (again, carried him to the river).
    Is there something going on with turtles? They are usually extremely reticent creatures that would rarely leave the water.
    I have noticed more than a few dead in the water lately :(

  • Dan on Monticello Neighborhood Guy

    btw, i also saw my first River Otter in the river right on the stretch of river that crosses under Foster right behind the Jewel.
    Adorable.
    Hope to see more of them.

  • The turtles in the river are mostly red-eared sliders. This does not look like the type we usually see. They do not normally like to get that far away from the water.
    I saw a huge otter last week at Leland near the river.
    Turtles make very slow pedestrians.

  • She was coming or going from laying eggs, most likely.

  • Lots of turtles in the wetland at Gompers Park. Makes sense some have moved downriver into the new wetland at Eugene Field Park. Love seeing this kind of wildlife in the city.

  • Jenn WiredCat

    It's a possibility that people are getting turtles as pets for their kids because of TMNT(Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) being back in popularity with the kids and then realizing they cannot care for them and dumping them in the river, thinking they know how to survive.

  • Robin in Rogers Park Owner of Cats in the City, LLC

    They sure stop for turtles in Florida. I used to volunteer at Willowbrook Wildlife Center and we got injured snapping turtles now and then; usually very cracked shells from being hit by a car. Glad this guy is ok!

  • Greg V. Cycling Dude

    Myself and six lanes of traffic stopped during rush hour for a mother goose and her goslings at Irving Park and Mannheim, around five years ago.

  • Joan M. Back in Lincoln Square and liking it.

    Thanks for those photos, Bob! That is a big old common snapping turtle, Chelydra serpentina. They occur throughout Illinois in suitable habitat. They rarely venture out of water except during the egg-laying season, which should normally be finished about now. Perhaps the winter deep-freeze and cold spring extended their emergence period.

    They are tough customers, both in the sense of being able to survive in degraded habitats and in being very willing to defend themselves when accosted by predators (including us) on land.

  • Lukie 25 year resident of North Park

    I saw a pretty big red eared slider at Eugene Field, heading away from the wetland in the baseball diamond area. I was concerned that it was confused, but left it alone. I hope it made it safely wherever it was headed! In downstate Illinois one spring, turtles were crossing the 2 lane road in large numbers. The cars kept whizzing past, totally unconcerned. My daughter and I jumped out and escorted a few across the road, but I don't know if we were helping them go where they want or putting them back where they started!

  • Greg V. Cycling Dude

    What are those 'round things' stuck on his/her shell ?

  • Joan M. Do you know what those are? They show in the third picture. I think they are a kind of parasite. I remember turtle people taking snapping turtles home to clean the parasites off, and then releasing them back in the same place, or a safer place.

  • Could possibly be zebra or some sort of other mussels. Hard to tell given the pics.

  • Greg V. Cycling Dude

    Thank you Polonia, but, I'm Greg V., not Joan M. Parasites, hmmm.

  • But Joan M might know the answer. They could be leeches. google Snapping turtle external parasites.

  • Dan on Monticello Neighborhood Guy

    Any chance that may be a cluster or snails riding on its back? Gompers' lagoon is filled with Chinese Mystery Snails; common in most waters connected to the Mississippi River. I've not known them to be parasitic, but i do know that many shellfish/critters with hard things they live in, will connect themselves to a willing host in a mutually beneficial relationship.

    If Bob K checks back, maybe he can fill us in as to whether or not he took note of it.

  • Joan M. Back in Lincoln Square and liking it.

    It's not unusual for snappers to have various fresh-water mollusks attached to their carapaces (upper shell). They're often covered in algae due to their mostly sedentary bottom-dwelling ways. I've always assumed the snails and such were mostly interested in feeding on that vegetative matter. They also get leeches and, of course, those critters are after blood.

    This turtle has parasites visible on both the carapace and the soft tissue on and near its neck. I assumed they were snails when I first saw the photos, but I really can't identify them for sure, or even if they're all the same organism.

  • Joan M. Back in Lincoln Square and liking it.

    A little late here, but I just discovered this really fine video on common snapping turtles geared toward the general public. And it concerns populations even more northerly than ours in Chicago.

    http://youtu.be/1FaTfpXs3vo

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