Dear Yertle and Bowser

Yertle and Bowser on January 2nd

As I fed and cleaned out Yertle and Bowser’s tank today, I thought about how large they have become since the end of August.  I wondered how the Summer 2010 hatchlings, who were not head-started, are doing in the wild.

So, I did a little research on-line about what happens with the turtles in the winter.  Here’s the information:

The Blanding’s Turtle

While most animals who hibernate choose to do so in deep caves and underground burrows, there is a native species the prefers the bottoms of lakes, marshes and wetlands.

The Blanding’s turtle hibernates completely underwater from late October or early November until the early spring. The cold-blooded reptile only needs to burrow itself in cold, muddy bottoms to stay warm. Its metabolism also slows so little oxygen in needed and it doesn’t have to search for food. Unlike most turtles, the Blanding’s is quite happy in the cold water; on occasion it is seen slowly swimming underneath the ice in areas where they winter –  like the Great Lakes.

Many Blanding’s Turtles are still active in the early winter. As winter progresses and temperatures drop they do hibernate to avoid freezing. It has been reported that Hibernation usually occurs underwater in the mud or near the entrance to a muskrat’s hovel.

Even during winter dormancy, turtles occasionally change position, and some, like the painted and Blanding’s turtles, can be seen moving slowly about under the ice.

During the winter, they hibernate by burrowing in silt on the bottom of a pond, bay, river, or other body of water to stay warm. Because they are cold-blooded they can keep body heat this way, and they don’t have to stay awake all winter looking for food.

I went down to Great Meadows on Sunday and remembered when we were there this fall and how Dr. Windmiller had the two Blanding’s turtles that live there at Great Meadows.  I wondered about how Nacho and the 50 year old turtle were doing, along with the hatchlings that were released.


So, your assignment is to write a letter to Yertle and Bowser from one of the hatchlings who was not head-started.  In your letter, you should include the following information:

Great Meadows on Sunday

1.  specific information about the weather.  You should mention temperature, wind speed, any precipitation, and what the barometric pressure is like.  Use good descriptive words when describing the conditions on Sunday.

2.  information about what the weight and length of the hatchling that is writing the letter.

Where we stood at Great Meadows during our visit in the fall

3.  Information about what the hatchling is doing at Great Meadows and what they might be eating.

4.  Feelings:  how does the hatchling feel being outside when Yertle and Bowser are living the life of luxury?

5.  Looking forward to:  What is the hatchling looking forward to showing Yertle and Bowser when they are released in the late spring

Your letter is due on WEDNESDAY and should be at least TWO paragraphs in length.  Be creative and have fun with this assignment.

Make sure you do it on a word processing program first, and edit it very carefully.  Also, make sure you use your NEW Erickson class number!

Path in the reeds leading to the water



Posted on January 2, 2011, in Blanding's turtles and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 28 Comments.

  1. I love the assignment! I can’t wait to read the stories – Happy New Year Yertle and Bowser!

  2. Dear Yertle and Bowser,
    My name is Hamburger. No idea why. All of the turtles in Great Meadows just called me that. Oh yes, I live in Great Meadows. Great Meadows is really cold this time of year, no idea why. It just happens. One minute it is hot and sunny, the next cold and snowy. It is in the high 30’s, around 38 F. I am at the bottom of one of the ponds in Great Meadows now, trying to hibernate. But someone, something is annoying me, so I can’t do it. So I’m writing this letter to you two. The pond has frozen in time, just sitting there. The barometric pressure is (barometric pressure is one of the things I learned down here) low. Going to get worse. Uh huh, definitely.
    I’m about high 20’s for my weight. I really don’t like giving that information out, but I’ll make an exception for you two. Oh, I don’t like to give this out either, but here’s my length:
    At Great Meadows, I’m eating small little things that come my way. Small little things like hamburgers (just kidding), and some little insects (ones that died while in the water and just happen to float my way), and other little floating plant bits.
    I heard that you two (Yertle and Bowser) are in the low 60’s for your weight. Wow! I’ve also heard (I’m now turning green with envy) that you guys (or girls) have a beautiful tank, as much as you want to eat every day, and people who clean your tank every week! How did you manage it? Why wasn’t I, the fabulous Hamburger, chosen? Whatever. But, I’m a little glad I’m in the wild. I get gourmet food (plant bits, snails, small fish, that stuff), for one thing. Also, I have company. Not just one other brother (or sister), a whole family that takes care of you and loves you. It’s a little bit of mixed feelings.
    I’m really looking forward to showing you guys around, letting you meet my friends, Nacho, and some others. I could also show the two of you how to get your own food, how to stay away from predators, all sorts of things. Yertle and Bowser, the two of you have a lot to learn! I also want to have all sorts of tales, I’ve heard a bit about the one (Yertle and Bowser, you guys are really famous down here) where Bowser was on top of Yertle, but I want to hear it from you. Oh my gosh, I can’t wait to see you!
    Hamburger the Blanding’s Turtle
    P.S. Now to find someone who will mail this letter…
    P.P.S. Where do I get a stamp?!

  3. Dear Bowser and Yertle,

    Most of my friends around here would disagree with what I am about to write but I think its time your were told the truth. You may not understand all of this in your “life of luxury” as a class pet but let me familiarize you with how it is to live life in the “real world”.

    Right now, the air pressure is decreasing, it is getting lower and lower by the minute making some turtles miserable, unlike me who prefers this type of weather. The temperature is anything but steady. Just recently, we had a day when it was forty degrees, then the next day it was in the twenties! When we have days like this I get curious and try to predict tomorrow’s weather and the day afters weather. Like a guessing game.

    Mysterious would best describe my home right now. With the fog hanging so low it looks like a gray blanket has been drooped over us. The wind is so strong that at my size (a 62.5 gram and 42 mm) turtle is barely able to move without being blown off course. I personally like the wind when it blows like that because I can test my strength against it by seeing how straight I can walk down the path.

    I know you have your own basking rock in your tank but let me tell you about mine. My basking rock attracts a tremendous amount of heat. When the ice melts and the sun comes back we all position our selves on the rock and rest. It is so relaxing. That is the first place I’ll show you if you ever come to visit.

    What I feel you miss the most is all the friends you can make in the real world. Maybe someday we will be friends.

    Other turtles may disagree, as this is just my perspective of where I live; you will just have to come and see for yourself.
    See you in Spring!

  4. Dear Yertle and Bowser,
    It is cold in the wild. The top of the pond is frozen. Some other hatchlings and I are trying to find a place to burrow. The wind is blowing. It is about 40 degrees Fahrenheit in the water. I am about 31.3mm and my weight is about 29.2g. I am eating very little. Out here it is cold and all the turtles here aren’t eating a lot.
    You are very lucky to be indoors. I am jealous of you being warm in the classroom and having plenty to eat and all those students taking care of you. I am looking forward to showing you how to catch your food, places to burrow for winter, and how to stay away from animals that eat us. I can’t wait to play with you. I would like to hear all about your time in the classroom.

    Your sibling Dot

  5. Dear Yertle and Bowser,
    My name is Twizzler. I am here to tell you about my life in Great Meadows. I will try to tell you about more good things than bad things. Right now I am feeling kind of jealous because you get to live a great life. You don’t need to hunt for your food and you don’t need to worry about the weather. Speaking of weather all of my buddies and I have been working on a Great Meadows weather station, it’s called: From the Eyes of a Turtle here is our report for today:” hello everyone this is Twizzler and Hamburger looking live outside Great Meadows. Today the weather is mostly foggy it will be mostly sunny for the rest of the week with lots of heat. Thank you for listening!: (this is where Lemon-drop comes in) “Now here is what’s happening in your neck of the swamp” (we got that from the today show). My weight is in the high 20’s and I am about 4 inches long. I don’t know why but Hamburger doesn’t like to tell people that. The last thing that I need to tell you is that the barometric pressure low. I am really looking forward to seeing you guys.

  6. Dear Bowser and Yertle,
    It is very cold, windy, and foggy out here. Since there is not a barometer around, I would guess that it would read almost at the bottom, and if you were here now you’d agree.
    I haven’t eaten much so I am pretty skinny and light. Living in the lap of luxury, I bet you guys are nice and fattened up with all of the kids feeding you every morning. If I had to guess how much I weighed and my length, I would probably say I weigh about 36.5 grams and I would say that I am as long as a leaf off of an oak tree, and I would say that that is about 2″ from one end of my carapace to the next. I bet you guys are about 64 grams and are about 3″.
    There is really not much to do in the winter at Great Meadows. Normally, I end up scuttling around on the floor of the pond or sleeping in a clump of gooey mud. I’ll bet you are running and hiding in the class room. Or, do you do that in a tank? Either way, it’s better than the situation that I’m in. Although I’m free in nature, I can’t get too far in the mud, and I’m alone! You guys have each other at least. Sometimes I feel pretty lonely here.
    I am really looking forward to being with you this spring. I have so much to show you, like all of the secret hide-outs in Great Meadow. I also can’t wait to hear all about the students in your class. I have it all planned out! Can’t wait!

  7. Dear Yertle and Bowser,
    My name is Spotty. Right now I have buried myself at the bottom of a icy pond in Great Meadows trying to keep myself warm. And I want to tell you how to “survive” in the real world not inside a “tank”.
    Today it is freezing and –“WHOOSH” the wind is howling like crazy and probably the wind speed is about 60 mph! The temperature is around 35 degrees Fahrenheit which means that the barometer is falling and a storm is coming up. Other turtles are probably freezing to death but I prefer this kind of cold.
    I weigh 31.9 grams and my length is 29.6 mm.
    You are lucky to get warm water to swim in and yummy food to eat. I think you are big and fat right now.What I get to eat is dead insects and tiny leaves which are floating around and — “Munch”, grabbed one. Let me tell you a secret, every turtle’s favorite season is summer and no one can deny that. You can frolic in the water, bask in the sun and have delicious feasts. And one more thing you have everything except one thing:-friends which you’ll get when you come here.
    I can’t wait to show you everything when I meet you two.

  8. Dear Yertle and Bowser,

    On Sunday the weather was terrible. There was rain pounding onto my plastron and when I lifted my head my, I could feel rain darting onto my yellow chin. The wind speed was as fast as a sprinting cheetah running our way. The wind was so fast it was brushing me off land. While I’m in the horrendous weather you are in the “Life of Luxury.”

    Before this weather came, I was growing fast! Before I started eating I weighed 50.5 grams but now I weigh 63.5 grams. Isn’t that amazing! Then later I asked Ashley if she would measure me in September and I measured 30 millimeters and now I’m 41.9 millimeters. Now you have to say that is an improval.

    Now I have to tell you how thrilled I am to see you in the spring! I’ve been telling everyone like Sally-Sue and Tommy how much I want to see you turtles.

    Lots of Love,

    Sour Head xoxoxoxo

  9. Dear Bowser and Yertle

    How are you doing? I am having a great time out in Great Meadows but you’ve really got to watch for Hammy the Heron out here. He has eaten two of my friends! Don’t worry though; the barometric pressure is very low so it is really stormy. I haven’t seen him for a while. Are you having lots of fun in Mrs. Erickson’s class? Nacho is having a good time, I think.

    In Great meadows we eat crayfish, small fish, snails, insects, and tadpoles. I am getting enough food but I half to hunt for it. I weigh about 20 grams. Are they feeding you enough? You guys should enjoy the life of luxury while you have it.
    I am really looking forward to showing you guys my secret hideout. I can’t wait to see you guys in the late spring.

    Buggle 😉

  10. Dear Bowser and Yertle,
    My name is Bertle. I’m so jealous for you guys. You get a nice warm tank with plenty to eat. I’m out here where it’s cold, windy, the barometer is falling, and there is barely any food. I hope you write back soon or I’ll be burrowed in the mud trying to stay warm and won’t be able to get any messages from you.

    Nacho is taking good care of that nice 50 year old guy that makes excellent Crayfish jelly beans.
    I’m about 30 grams and 1 1/2 inches says the strange old turtle who measures you by making you sit on a flat rock, it’s really creepy. I bet you’re giants now! I can’t wait to teach you guys how to catch things and show you good hiding spots. It’s really windy and cloudy and I want to get warm again so I’ll end it now. Hope I hear from you soon.

    Sincerely Bertle.

  11. Dear Yertle and Bowser,

    It’s stormy here at Great Meadows, just this Sunday the barometric pressure went so low I thought there was going to be a hurricane. It was also pretty muddy so it was very hard to walk. Since I’m only one or two inches long, I might even get buried in the mud if the weather keeps going like this.
    Since the water is frozen it’s hard to get some crayfish to eat. Basically the only thing that you can eat here now is probably just a few eathworms. You guys are lucy sitting in that tank all day being fed daily, getting measured, and climbing on rocks. But here all you can do in the wild is just sit around all day in your nest hoping to find an earthworm to eat. When you guys get released this year I’ll show you all of the good ponds to get fish and where all the foxes and raccoons are so you don’t end up getting eaten on your first day. I’ll also show you the best place to find an earthworm.

    I’ll be waiting for you guys,

    from: the hatchling at Great Meadows.

  12. Dear Bowser and Yertle,
    I am Green the Blanding’s Turtle. I live at Great Meadows. It is awfully cold in the pond. The weather was cloudy with a thunder storm. The temperature is 34 Degrees Fahrenheit. The wind speed is 5mph. The presentation was 3 gallons. The barometric pressure is 29.85inches of mercury.
    I am only 4.5mm and weigh only 10.3 grams. I heard that you guys weigh 75.5 grams. WOW! I only eat tiny bits of leaves little dead fishes and things like that. You are so lucky about having food; living in a warm tank and having kids take care of you! But you’re kind of not lucky because you don’t to get to be in the wild. I am looking forward to see you in the wild!
    Your buddy Green.

  13. Dear Yertle and Bowser,

    On Sunday the weather was rainy. The barometric pressure was 29 Hg, there was no wind, and the temperature was in the mid 30’s to high 40’s. The clouds were gray like lead. I’m looking out of water into the sky, for any sun to shine anytime soon. I am about 20 grams in weight and am about 2 inches in length.

    I am swimming under the frozen water and looking for fish and other species of food. I am getting ready to hibernate for winter. I feel jealous that you guys get a tank that gets cleaned every Monday and fed every day, when I have to look for food on my own. You are lucky to have a classroom, so that no predators can get you, especially cars. I look forward to teaching you guys how to hunt and stay away from predators. I also look forward to showing you guys new land.


  14. Dear Bowser and Yertle, how are you guys doing? Well I’m not doing so well. Over here the temperature is about 34 degrees Fahrenheit. And the water is freezing! The wind is about 5-10 miles per hour. But that was just on Sunday, one day I almost got blown away by the wind! The weather is a little rainy and very cloudy. The barometric pressure is rising. (Boo whoo) We also had snow on top of all the other bad weather. (But because you are in a classroom you haven’t heard of snow.)

    So Bowser I heard you came to be very big. Well over here I’m pretty small compared to you. I weigh about 9 grams. My length is about 15 (mm).

    As I live in Great Meadows I like to go to the bottom of Beaver Pond to stay warm, climb stuff, and sleep. But in a few days I am going to go to the bottom of Beaver Pond and hibernate until spring. I eat crayfish, insects, small fish, and some plants.

    I wish I were inside with you. Out here I could be eaten every day. I almost freeze to death. Plus you can’t get a decent worm or snail until spring. And you’re having the time of your lives with the humans.

    I can’t wait until you guys come so I can see your faces when you’re like “what the heck.” When you come I can show you the vernal pools and Beaver Pond, where my house is.

    Please answer back and Happy New Year. From Cheese

  15. Dear Bowser and Yertle,
    How are you guys doing? Well I’m not doing so well. Over here the temperature is about 34 degrees Fahrenheit. And the water is freezing! The wind is about 5-10 miles per hour. But that was just on Sunday, one day I almost got blown away by the wind! The weather is a little rainy and very cloudy. The barometric pressure is rising. (Boo whoo) We also had snow on top of all the other bad weather. (But because you are in a classroom you haven’t heard of snow.)

    So Bowser I heard you came to be very big. Well over here I’m pretty small compared to you. I weigh about 9 grams. My length is about 15 (mm).

    As I live in Great Meadows I like to go to the bottom of Beaver Pond to stay warm, climb stuff, and sleep. But in a few days I am going to go to the bottom of Beaver Pond and hibernate until spring. I eat crayfish, insects, small fish, and some plants.

    I wish I were inside with you. Out here I could be eaten every day. I almost freeze to death. Plus you can’t get a decent worm or snail until spring. And you’re having the time of your lives with the humans.

    I can’t wait until you guys come so I can see your faces when you’re like “what the heck.” When you come I can show you the vernal pools and Beaver Pond, where my house is.

    Please answer back and Happy New Year. From Cheese

  16. Dear Yertle and Bowser,
    My name is Willis, your brother. I could not find you anywhere, but I got a letter from a source (which I will not mention) giving me your location. The tank that I saw in the photo of you two in looked outstanding compared to the ice-cold water I try to stay warm in. I am underwater now, getting ready to burrow in the mud. Your tank even has a heater! I am stuck in this cloudy, 30ish degree weather. Some older, what do you call them, humans were talking about some “Barometric Pressure” thing, and from what I got the barometric pressure here is very low. I’m hungry. I’m always hungry. Where’s one of those delicious worms or wonderful snails when you need one? Speaking of food, I only weigh around 20 grams. Oh fine, I’m also small (compared to you, at least) , maybe 30 millimeters. I can’t wait until I can see you again so I can show you my little house, the deep pond, all the other turtles, and the countless other interesting things around here.

    From, Willis
    P.S. When you come over, please bring me some of that food you’ve been raving about.

  17. Dear Yertle and Bowser two very lucky turtles,
    You two are very lucky that you were head-started. At this time of the year, living under a frozen lake with low barometric pressure and tons of windy days is what my life is all about. As snowflake after snowflake fall on the frozen pond that I and buried at the bottom of, it makes me think about how lucky you two are living in a nice warm tank with a heater and lots of food. I am about 30 grams in weight and my length is 28 mm. I’m also starving! All I get to eat is a few passing earth worms and that’s about it. Here’s how I feel:

    • Lonely
    • Unlucky to not have been picked
    • Hungry
    • Cold
    • Bored

    I can’t for you to be released! I have the coolest home ever. It’s right under the shadiest white pine tree and I want you to see it!
    But what I really wonder is, how did you two get picked and not me? I mean I am clearly the best looking turtle in all of Great Meadows. With my bright yellow chin and my sleek black carapace I clearly should’ve been chosen over you two. I wonder if my brother or sister got chosen, well, I guess I’ll find out in the spring.

  18. Dear Yertle and Bowser,
    My name’s Bobo and I am a Blanding’s Turtle just like you but I guess you can say that I’m having a lot of trouble out in the wild, the barometric pressure is way too low and I’m also having trouble with food. There really isn’t anything out here in the Winter, the wind is really strong so the temperature drops about 5 degrees lower because of the wind.

    Since there isn’t much to eat out here I only weigh 27.3 grams but you guys get to live it up with an all you can eat buffet and you have students that serve you and it’s not cold in there because you have a heater in there and a tank. Well, it’s not like that out here it’s just an open wild terrain with predators that could eat you and you have to fight to get food like there could have been another Blanding’s Turtle that would want that too and you know what happens next.

    Even though this life is sometimes hard it has it’s good things. I’m looking forward to showing you the large variety of food unlike that you have to eat the very same thing every day.

    Love your true friend,

  19. Hi Yertle and Bowser my name is Tim. Out here in great meadows it’s like a TORNADO today. And the waves (there normally isn’t any) are HUGE! (from a turtles point of view) The sky is gray and it looks like it’s about to rain. Also, there’s fog everywhere! I can’t even see the tops of the trees. It’s actually not that cold out here for a stormy winter day. The barometric pressure today is pretty low.

    I am about 30 grams in weight, probably about half the weight of you two, And I’m about 20 millimeters in length.

    We play a lot a games out here because there’s more then just one other turtle with you. We eat insects and worms and things like that.

    I’m pretty jealous that you guys are in there, doing anything you like. But what’s good about here is the games. You can play better games then bucking bronco out here.

    I’m looking forward to showing you the outside world and all the great places you can go to out here. And all the other turtles in Great Meadows.

    Your friend,

  20. Dear Yertle and Bowser,
    You are so lucky! You have a heated tank and pass your days by eating and wrestling . In the mean time, I dig a hole in October and in early November when the temperature goes below 32 degrees . Then I get in the hole and stay there all winter, and occasionally go out for swims under the ice. Just yesterday, I went outside for a swim. I limit my swim because in the winter my metabolism goes down so I eat less in the winter because food is scarce. I burst out of the hole like a geyser. I started to weave my way through the labyrinth of seaweed. Then I saw it a mink shot itself at me like a dive bomber. I was terrified. I hate to interrupt at such a dramatic point in the letter but this is another reason why I envy you (no predators chasing you all of the time).
    Now back to the story. With my remaining energy I pushed myself into a clump of seaweed, out of the mink’s sight. After that I caught a bug and swam back to my hole. Soon there will be low barometric pressure and high wind speeds. And low barometric pressure means thunder storms, which means spring rains. And when you come to Great Meadows I’d be glad to show you around. I hate to tell you this, but I am only 12 grams and three inches long, while you are gorging on turtle pellets are 70 grams.

    PS (Please write back).

  21. Dear Yertle and Bowser,

    You guys are so lucky to be headstarted,it’s super cold out here. While I freeze my shell, you get to hang arond in a nice warm tank. Well it least it’s not raining and the wind isn’t that fast, but still somtimes the temperature drops below freezing. I’m pretty disappointed that I didn’t get headstarted and that you did, but you only have each other and I have a whole bunch of turtles who are my family and friends in the wild.

    I can’t wait to show you how to catch your own food, where all the good places to hibernate are, and all the cool things about nature. Right now, I was in the middle of hibernating and woke up when I heard a very scary noise. I don’t know what it was, but since I am up I decided to write to you.

    I’m about 53 millimeters and 22 grams. I’ll bet you guys are twice my length and double my weight. So I might be hard to find when you are released. Can’t wait to see you again.

    Your friend,

  22. Dear, Yertle and Bowser.

    I am at the bottom of Great Meadows on a Sunday. The weather here is terrible dark, cloudy and looks like it’s going to rain so the barometric pressure is low. So what do you guys weigh? Probably more than me my guess for how much I weigh and for how long I am is 30 grams and about 7mm. I am trying to hibernate right now at Great Meadows in some silt but the wind is blowing like CRAZY so that is another sign of low barometric pressure so I am writing this letter to pass the time. I hear you guys eat something called pellets? What do the taste like? Anyway I have never heard of them. All there is to eat down here is just a few earthworms. I wish I was with you guys being head-started sounds like a lot of fun.I really look forward to seeing you. I have heard many famous stories about you guys in the tank like when Bowser was on top of Yertle and the purple rock this is the last storie I have heard basking under the metal heater that sounds fantastic to me! I am sure you will tell all the stories to me when you get here in late spring see you then!

    Noodle, the Blanding’s Turtle

    P.S. could you bring some pellets with you.

    P.P.S. also the purple rock.

    P.P.P.S. the metal heater too.

    P.P.P.P.S. and everything else.

    P.P.P.P.P.S. now how am I going to get this to a mailbox when there is ice above me?

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