Homes around Kess Creek or ponds, streams or lakes can be visited by your typical wildlife guests like frogs, raccoons and snakes — YIKES! — but John and Marilyn Marshall of Mayfield got a front porch visit Saturday morning that wasn’t delivering mail or selling cookies.
Right by their Linden Drive front door was a large alligator snapping turtle. Somehow the prehistoric-looking creature, with its spiked shell, managed to climb up the few steps to reach the small entranceway.
Ray and Jan Schorr, who live across the street, first alerted the Marshalls to their front door visitor, but Marilyn Marshall said she, her husband and others had previously seen the turtle along the street and figured it was heading to its watery lair in the creek that runs through the section of town.
But it apparently made a detour.
After making its way back into the Marshalls’ front yard, John was able to wrangle the surprisingly swift snapper into a wheelbarrow with some neighbors’ help and eventually transported the terrapin back to the creek.
According to the Kentucky Department for Fish and Wildlife Resources, alligator snapping turtles live in river systems from the Gulf of Mexico up the Mississippi River and into places like western Kentucky, Missouri, Illinois and Iowa. In west Kentucky, they have been mapped in Ballard, Carlisle, Calloway, Caldwell, Livingston and McCracken counties.
They are thought to be rare and declining. The KDFWR website notes that little data is available on alligator snapping turtles in the region but that dams, degrading habitats and commercial harvesting for food has impacted the species.
The snapping turtle isn’t the only unusual creature the Marshalls have recently wrangled on their property. John Marshall managed to cage a live armadillo, which had purportedly been digging holes in their yard. Many armadillos around the area have been the unfortunate victims of pedestrian-versus-vehicle traffic fatalities.