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I saved a turtle!

 
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Yesterday I was doing my once yearly bush hogging in my grassy area.  While at the end of a row I looked down and saw what looked like a rock—that was crawling!  I carefully backed up, maneuvered around and did my best to dodge the little critter on his way to a tree line.  On my next pass he was nowhere to be found.  I assume that he made it to the tree line.  Yeah!!

Eric
 
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That's always a relief.  I've been very impressed by how fast they can move and even how they can climb raised beds to avoid the mower in very tall grass.
 
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Our reptiles and amphibians are under great environmental stress. Well done Eric!
 
Eric Hanson
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Ruth,

The little critters sure can get up and move when they want to!  As I was bush hogging, I was not exactly mowing right down close to the earth; he was crawling through 6-12 inch tall grass but making pretty good progress.



Jay,

Yep, I like to make certain that those guys are as protected as possible on my property.




Eric
 
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Good on you! Turtles are wonderful.
I lived in a swampy area of SE NC last year, and turtles apparent climb over my fence every year to lay eggs...in my back yard. Found a few larger females in my yard and tons of babies. Helped them into the lake next door when i could, I had chickens and were concerned about the little guys safety. Successfully got quite a few babies into the lake and onto greener pastures. So fun to sit and watch the turtles sunbathe!

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turtle
turtle
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turtle
 
Eric Hanson
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Michelle,

Around my area, turtles and other reptiles are fairly common.  We have a 1/4 acre pond on our property and the turtles love it!  I often find them crossing the driveway on the way from our pond to a semi-wooded fence line, about a 100-200’ journey.  As far as I am concerned, they have the right-of-way.

Eric
 
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Ruth Meyers wrote:That's always a relief.  I've been very impressed by how fast they can move and even how they can climb raised beds to avoid the mower in very tall grass.



Even though it seems less efficient than starting at the edge, it's important to start mowing in the center of a field/yard so that critters can escape to the edges.  Mowing around the edges tends to chase them to the middle where they get sliced.

 
Eric Hanson
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Interesting thought Tyler, I had not even considered that concept.  I congratulate you on your astute observation!!

I frequently see bunnies skitter out of the way, and fortunately, they do have alternative habitats nearby.  I put off mowing this year for two reasons,

#1). I have a lot of milkweed and the area is actually an important monarch butterfly reproducing/migration zone.

#2). Deer.  I maintain a small amount of trails in my tall grasses.  The trails subtract almost nothing from grassy acreage and are mostly a shortcut and a way to enjoy the prairie.  When I mowed the paths I could easily see at least 2 dozen spots that deer had bed down.  I am sure there were a lot more I could not see.  We have LOTS of deer by us and I am really pleased that many call our property home.

Tyler, I think I am going to consider this in my future mowing.

Eric
 
Eric Hanson
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Tyler,

Actually, now that I think about it, I may basically be doing this already.  Sort of.

I don’t mow down the center as you suggest, but I do mow left to right, thus not concentrating the critters into an unintended critter kill zone.

What do you think?  Does this have the same effect?

Love to know your thoughts,

Eric
 
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I find it's best to mow, starting at a fairly High Point on sloped land, and  work your way down. The majority of creatures I'm dealing with are small snakes and frogs, particularly tree frogs. So I start in an area that is on a fairly steep slope above them, and work my way down. The water feature and the trees are downhill. I had my customers stand at the fence line, which is followed by a pond and even when I was 20 lawn mower widths away, the frogs and snakes began migrating out of the space.

We have determined that they migrate into the space fairly early in the day, because they feed amongst the grass. Once their bellies are full, they will often return to the pond and trees on their own. So we changed over to cutting this area late in the afternoon and that way we're only dealing with a few stragglers. When I first discovered the tree frogs, I did a cut about 20 feet away from a row of trees and noticed dozens of them retreating in that direction. It was late morning and they were still feeding.

It's a cordless electric machine which doesn't make a huge amount of noise. But these creatures immediately sense the vibrations and foot traffic. About 1 acre of lawn and orchard, maintained for the cordless machine. I usually have three batteries charging at once.

I've done work on other properties, and it's usually pretty easy to determine where slow-moving types of animal would retreat to. The ones at risk, seem to be reptiles and amphibians. All of the mammals in my area are fleet of foot, and they take off immediately. The natural habitat for these reptiles and amphibians is almost always going to be a wetter area that is downslope. Sometimes snakes will be sunning themselves on higher rocky ground. They do this in the late morning where I live. Another good reason to do the cut in the afternoon, when they will have already migrated to their feeding areas which is closer to where you want to send them.

Start in an area where the grass is not too thick, that is opposite good natural habitat. Chances are, that this is where the animals sleep and breed. When they are found on a lawn, they are either feeding or they are in transit to somewhere different.
 
Eric Hanson
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Dale,

All good points and material worth thinking about and acting upon.

In the context here, the grass was 6’ tall grass that I was cutting with a rotary cutter/bush hog.  I typically mow that grass down to about 6”-1’ level, so it is not like I am scraping the ground.  I only do this once per year because I like the tall grasses and all the wildlife that thrive because it is there.

Eric
 
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