An Unexpected Catch

Box turtle, gardening and wildlife, critters in the garden unexpected catch in live trap

The other day I was delighted to have a couple hours to work in the garden. It was early in the day, clear, and cool. The sun, though up, was not yet upon my garden. The dew was heavy. This is a time I love to be in the garden, though one needs to be careful not to get soil on plants’ leaves while they are moist.

There were more things I’d like to do, than I could possibly do, and quickly, I found myself distracted. The light conditions were perfect for taking pictures. There were any number of varieties I wanted to document, and images to capture. As I surveyed the main garden I thought to check a live trap I had set for rodents…

rat, rodents in garden, garden pests
A rat I found, while harvesting sweet potatoes in another year

Last year we had almost a complete sweet potato crop failure, due to rodents.

rodent damage, sweet potato, gardening
This sweet potato was half eaten by rodents, before i could harvest in 2017.

Among other things, I have started setting a live trap in the garden, if not at least to alert me to a sudden surge in rodent population. However, whenever one sets a live trap, one also needs to check it, preferably in the morning. Imagine my surprise when I spotted something in the trap, and upon examination, found this cheery little fellow in it!


See “The Usefulness of A Live Trap”

box turtle, unexpected live trap catch
A box turtle that was in my live trap
box turtle, box turtle in garden
To learn more about box turtles, visit

Yes, he ate the peanut butter and tortilla I had used for bait!

Now, I was really glad I had used a non lethal method to trap him for he was, indeed an unexpected catch. It was also good I checked the trap early on, as he could have cooked in the trap. I was also glad I hadn’t resorted to rat poison. One year I used rat poison and found a dead turtle in the garden. Many gardeners consider box turtles to be a garden pest, yet for me, they provide a source of pleasure and amusement. The main damage they cause is in low laying fruit. One year they ate all of Jerreth’s strawberries (not good). They often eat tomatoes that are low enough for them to reach. I put up with this, and cage my plants, so most fruit isn’t low enough for them. Enough spoiled fruit gets dropped that turtles don’t try very hard to get the hanging fruit. Aside from fruit, box turtles eat grasshoppers and crickets, if they can catch them. They also eat slugs, an assortment of caterpillars and other insects. I like to believe they eat cutworms.

In many parts of the box turtle’s range, these little creatures are becoming scarce, due to motor vehicles, mowing  and loss of habitat. I am happy to host a few in my garden.

I let this unexpected live trap catch go. For a turtle, I would say “he ran off” as soon as I put him down. He brightened my day. Gardening is not just a way to produce food, it’s a way of gaining a greater appreciation for God’s creation.

“Let heaven and earth praise Him, The seas and everything that moves in them.” Psalm 69:34

Related Post: Snakes in the Garden


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