Thursday, May 03, 2012

Jewel # 110 (May 3, 2012)

Alligator Snapping Turtle                                                Gopher Tortoise

"And they shall be Mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up MY JEWELS."
(Malachi 3:17)

To my dear grandchildren,

Turtles and Tortoises

"The Almighty, we cannot find Him out: He is excellent in power, and in judgment" (Job 37:23).

The alligator snapping turtle lives in the rivers of the Mississippi Valley.  It measures about four feet from its snout to the end of its tail and weighs about 150 pounds.  It is considered the most dangerous of all turtles.  Three rows of rough, bony ridges run from front to back on its yellowish top shell.  It finds frogs, fish, worms and even small turtles in the water to eat and is swift as a rattlesnake in capturing them.    It does not attack humans unless annoyed, but its immense, strong jaws could bite a person's arm or foot off.

It has an interesting way of catching fish.  Lying in a quiet spot at the bottom of a stream or pond, its wide-open mouth exposes a tongue on which a piece of pink flesh that looks like an angle-worm wriggles back and forth.  This makes an effective bait, attracting small fish, which intend to make a meal of the "worm."  So right into the turtle's mouth one swims, and - you guessed it - instead of getting a meal, it becomes a meal.

Another interesting one is the gopher tortoise, named for the extra-long tunnel it digs with a roomy den at the end.  It sometimes shares this den with a gopher, frog, owl, snake or raccoon.  They get along peacefully together in the den.  This 
tortoise's black shell looks like lumps of coal stuck together.

One unusual turtle is the Matamata of South America.  Its rather flat shell has hard spikes on the top to discourage predators.  It has a long neck and pointed head and paralyzes its prey by dousing it with a mouthful of poisonous spray.

A book could be written about these strange amphibians, including the eastern box turtle.  Its high brown shell is decorated with tan figures, some of which look like letters of the alphabet.  This shell provides unusually good security, for the turtle can completely withdraw its head, tail and leg underneath it.  It has further protection from a flexible seal all around where the top shell meets the under shell.  The underside hinges in the middle so it can box itself in tightly.

The Creator has given each turtle and tortoise just the right equipment for the conditions under which it lives.  Our opening Bible verse declares that this wisdom and power, beyond our ability to fully understand, come from Him.  Each of us should often thank Him for His love and goodness to us in so many ways.  But we should particularly thank Him for the death of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, on Calvary's cross.  His death provides salvation to all who put their trust in Him and know Him as their Lord and Saviour.

I love you,

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