See something odd happening on the back end of this turtle? What’s that coming out of the rear left leg?
This morning at Lake Lotus Park in Altamonte Springs, Arthur and I stopped along the boardwalk to watch a small Red-eared Slider struggling to climb onto a floating log. Once it clawed its way onto the the log, it started walking as if it had something on its plastron which prevented its back legs from reaching the surface at the correct angle or position. The turtle slid back into the water but when it climbed back onto the log moments later, it still had the same problem. As we continued to watch we finally noticed that it had a rather large leech stuck to its body.
It appeared to be scooting around the log to try and remove the leech. This video shows the turtle’s first ascent onto the log and a couple of moments of subsequent leech-scooting.
It is very common for turtles to carry leeches. I had no idea of this before today. In Googling for information about turtles and leeches, I came across an older post from one of my favorite Florida bloggers, who wrote: “It’s extremely common to find leeches on turtles in Florida. In fact, it’s so common, that if I had to go collect a bunch of leeches, I would start flipping turtles.” Well, how about that?
Leeches survive by attaching themselves to a host animal and sucking blood. When turtles bask in the sun, sometimes their leeches dry up and fall off. Good luck little slider, and thanks for today’s new thing learned.