April 29, 2013
Forget the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, this has got to be a candidate for the world’s bravest – or should that be most foolhardy – hero in a half shell.
It’s called a map turtle, but if this image is to be believed it may be seriously lacking a sense of direction.
The freshwater turtle was caught on camera by aquarists at Newquay’s Blue Reef Aquarium using the snout of a caiman crocodile called Gnasher as a handy haul-out area.
However far from being a one-off accident which ended in crocodile tears for the turtle, it is actually becoming a regular event for the freshwater reptile and, even more surprisingly perhaps, the caiman also seems to be unconcerned with the role of sunbed.
Blue Reef’s Paul Strachan said: “When we first spotted him clambering on to the caiman we were a little anxious. However the caiman seems to be extremely relaxed about the whole thing and it’s now becoming something of a regular occurrence.
“I’m not entirely convinced that it’s the most sensible spot to pick, but I suppose being on top of the caiman’s jaws rather than in front of them does give him a little advance warning in case things do go awry!
“We’ve heard of turtles and terrapins hauling out on to the backs of other reptiles in the wild but it’s really unusual for them to get quite so close to the business end of one,” he added.
Map turtles get their name from the series of lines on their underside which resemble a road-map.
The turtle is one of a group which have been rehomed by the aquarium and now share their display with Gnasher and Nibbles, a pair of Cuvier’s dwarf caiman.
The Cuvier’s dwarf caiman is the smallest surviving member of the crocodilian family found in the Americas. Even so fully grown adult males can reach up to 1.6 metres in length.