Sheila Sybrant

Alligators, snakes, sharks and lottery winners.

This may seem like an odd grouping, but I assure you that all of these items do have something in common: They are frequent repeat topics on “odd news” websites.

After a day of reading “regular” news, I often unwind at night by checking out the quirkier and less incendiary articles on odd news sites. And what I’ve noticed is that a lot of the articles center on alligators, snakes, sharks and lottery winners.

This past week, for example, there was a story about a baby alligator that made an appearance at a South Carolina beach and a guy in North Carolina who bought lottery tickets at 40 stores in a (successful!) search for the lone remaining $5 million prize ticket.

Such stories appeal to readers because they feature events that are thrilling — sometimes in good ways and sometimes in bad ways.

One topic that is conspicuously missing from odd news stories, though, is snapping turtles.

I hadn’t really thought about this dearth of turtle stories until an incident this past week in which I had an up-close and personal encounter with one. It was a thrilling event — although not in a good way.

It happened when I accompanied my husband on an outing to a piece of our property on which he had installed an 8-inch culvert.

He noticed that the water wasn’t flowing through the culvert as it should. Upon closer examination, he spotted a snapping turtle firmly wedged in the opening on one end. Using a crowbar, he pried and pried until the culvert released its hold.

This story has a happy ending only for the water flow. It was too late for the turtle — he was already dead.

This was not the first time I’ve seen a snapping turtle. I’ve observed them on the road when I’m driving or walking. Nevertheless, I’d never really wanted to get too close to one.

I’d always thought of them as ferocious, and looking at a dead one did nothing to dissuade me from that impression. This turtle’s grossly thick and long neck was fully extended, and his mouth was wide open (undoubtedly trying to get air).

You might think I’m being ridiculous. After all, a snapping turtle is slow and relatively small.

Yes, snapping turtles are slow. But so am I. I’m sure that I couldn’t outswim a shark, and it’s likely that I couldn’t outrun an alligator or snake. I’d like to think that I could definitely outpace a snapping turtle, but my husband might beg to differ.

He most likely would bring up that incident from 30-some years ago when we were in a two-legged race together. He claims — perhaps rightly, but I take the Fifth on this — that I was the cause of us losing (and quite badly at that).

But, you might argue, a snapping turtle is so much smaller than I am. Still, when a snapping turtle grabs on, apparently it is not easily convinced to let go.

And I have a vivid imagination. I like to swim in lakes and ponds, but now I picture that outstretched neck and open mouth lurking under the murky water, waiting to feast on my flailing limbs with exposed digits.

Or what if I decide to stand on the bottom in shallow water and happen to rest on a turtle who happens not to appreciate being a free step stool?

I’ve read that snapping turtles are actually quite placid and nonconfrontational in water. But, really, after seeing that turtle this week, I’m not interested in testing this theory.

Readers may contact Sybrant at svsybrant@gmail.com or 45092 859th Road, Bassett, NE 68714

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