Dow Digital Science Center

Turtle Basking

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If there are multiple turtles to identify – learners can work in pairs to identify their assigned turtle.

We ask learners to provide a minimum of three field characteristics to identify a turtle. For example, learners may say that their turtle is a yellow belly slider because it has yellow on its belly. This could actually describe multiple turtles in our area so we push them for a second distinguishing characteristic. They may then say that the turtle has yellow stripes on its leg. Again, this would describe multiple turtles in our area so we ask them for a third characteristic. They may finally refer to a yellow blotch or bar behind the eye linking a pair of yellow stripes on each side of the neck. Only after giving three field characteristics do we allow a learner group to arrive at an identification: Yellowbelly Slider (Trachemys scripta). Typically, we might also ask for a fourth characteristic (pair of dark spots on the gular scutes – just to be sure).