Meet Io

Io (“eye-oh”) came to our flock on May 6, 2022, as a 7-month-old hatchling 3-toed box turtle. She hatched on September 8, 2021. I feel so privileged to know her actual hatch date and a photo to document her arrival into this world!

Io the hatchling 3-toed box turtle on her hatchday.

We don’t yet know if Io is a girl turtle or a boy turtle. And we won’t know for a few years yet….nothing like a really long cliffhanger to keep you on your toes.

So when you read “she” throughout her bio, just know this may change. 🙂

Io chose her own name. How do I know? In the wake of Bruce’s choice to return to a life in the wild, I became an animal communicator (in part as a way to honor his impact in my life).

Not that that helped me much at first. In the days up to Io’s arrival, I tried out literally hundreds of names on her, none of which fit, before it finally occurred to me to ask her which name she liked.

In the tiniest, cutest little voice possible, I heard “I like Io.”

And so…..Io it is. 🙂

If you are into astronomy or mythology, you probably recognize Io as Jupiter’s moon of volcanoes, fire and ice….or as Zeus’s lover whom a jealous Hera turned into a cow.

Even at one year old, little Io is a powerhouse. She quickly dispatches earthworms three times her size. She is so curious and intelligent and independent. She is growing by leaps and bounds and has already doubled in size and tripled in weight.

I feel so lucky and grateful to have the privilege of caring for her.

Why isn’t Io living in the wild?

This is a great question. Io came to me via a neighbor who works with several native turtle rescue organizations. The clutch was an accident (as these things go) discovered one day in the midst of his colony of rescued and rehabilitated former pet box turtles.

Where we live is surrounded by construction. A century-old wild box turtle nesting grounds behind our house was just razed to make way for a multi-building, multi-story, multi-use live/work complex. And from there, concrete stretches out as far as the eye can see.

Increasingly, there is no place for local wild box turtles to live and breed and hibernate safely, which is how my neighbor’s colony ended up living with him. And Io is living with us in a beautiful enclosed backyard where she will be able to grow up safe in a wild-like native environment I will build for her as she gets bigger.

Io as a yearling 3-toed box turtle.

Truly, there is no perfect solution for Io and her kind. But this does feel like the next closest thing.

Can you tell me more about Io’s species?

Three toed-box turtles (Terrapene carolina triunguis) are native to Texas where we live, and are approaching endangered status. They get their name from the 3 toes on their back legs (although some have 4 toes, go figure). Their shells have a special olive color and the males have red-orange eyes and distinctive colorations on their faces. They have great vision and smell and are very bright and curious, yet also shy, especially when handled.

Box turtles tap out at around 5 inches long and are very lightweight. They are also the only turtles that can completely hinge themselves inside their shells, which is where they get the rest of their name: “box turtle.”

In the wild, box turtles have been known to live as long as 100 years. This makes little Io what is called a “legacy pet.” She may well outlive me, and for this reason I have a plan in place AND a place in my will for her continued care.


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