A common, but never dull sighting in Kruger National Park were the numerous turtles that used hippopotami as their basking platforms. With the hippos tired out from eating all night long they mostly rested in the water during the day, which gave the opportunistic turtles a perfect platform to grab some rays. Surprisingly, the notoriously cranky hippos didn’t seem to mind the reptilian free-loaders!
The extreme example of this was this dynamic duo. Not wanting to go back into the murky water, the turtle was determined to hang on while the hippo went for a stroll along the shore. I figured at some point it would either get scared and crawl off, or it would fall. However, I underestimated the determination of the turtle, who hung on and continued basking on the hippo’s back while being paraded around the watering hole! Always something new and interesting to see when watching wildlife.
They may not be considered pretty by many but no one can argue that they are adaptable. Snapping turtle ancestors date back some 40 million years! On the other hand human ancestors have only been around as a species for about 200,000 years. Which begs the question, would snapping turtles prefer living with dinosaurs over living with humans?
As human induced climate change continues they will need to continue to adapt or face extinction. The gender of snapping turtles and several egg laying reptiles is determined by the temperature the eggs are incubated at. Female will develop at colder temperatures and males at higher temperatures. Only a few degrees of difference is needed to change the sex of the soon to be hatched eggs, but if global warming continues these reptiles will have to modify their nesting behaviours if they are going to survive.
In this photo, a female was on the move to try to find a good spot to lay her eggs. After taking this photo I carefully lifted her up to avoid being bitten and took her across the road to make sure she made it safely. Everyone needs a helping hand once in a while and now more than ever wildlife needs ours!