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turtle damage in rice

Turtle Damage in Rice

Turtle Damage in Rice published on No Comments on Turtle Damage in Rice
turtle damage in rice

Above is a common, but usually insignificant problem encountered in many rice fields especially in south Louisiana.  Numerous plants or actually only the upper portions of plants can be seen floating in the water.  Most of the time in drainage ditches like the one shown at left or in small open areas adjacent to water inlets , drop pipes or other marginal areas of the field.

Close examination of the bases of these plants reveals a chewed or chopped off end.  The first inclination is to blame rodents such as nutria or muskrats, but these critters are not the culprit.  The animal causing the damage is a turtle.  Over the years we have witnessed an extraordinary increase in the population of “yellow bellies” or “red eared sliders” in rice fields especially when the field is flooded in the winter for either waterfowl or crawfish.

I do not know if they eat the rice or if they are just clearing a pathway.  In extreme cases I have seen large areas damaged, but most of the time the damage is cosmetic.

turtle damage to stems of rice
turtle damage to stems of rice
turtle damage in rice

This photograph reveals the nature of the damage turtles do to rice.  They chop the plants off just above the crown.  I suppose I should have contacted a herpetologist (someone who studies reptiles) to ask about their diet before preparing this.  I did not think about it in time.

 

The late Cecil McCrory, county agent in Vermilion parish introduced me to this problem around 1989 or 1990.

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