Monday, August 13, 2012

Episode 123 (August 13, 2012): "Turtles Don't Need No 401-K," by Bob Gramann, and an Introduction to Reptiles

Click to listen to episode (2:34).

Please see below (after the transcript and show notes) for links to news and upcoming events.


From the Cumberland Gap to the Atlantic Ocean, this is Virginia Water Radio for the week of August 13, 2012.

This week, we feature a quick-moving song about a group of animals known for moving rather slowly.  Have a listen for about 40 seconds.


You’ve been listening to part of “Turtles Don’t Need No 401-K,” by Bob Gramann, on his 1995 album “Mostly True Songs.”  While turtles don’t need a retirement account, they do need water.  Two key water-saving features have allowed turtles—and fellow reptiles the snakes, lizards, and crocodilians—to range farther away from aquatic habitats than is possible for reptiles’ evolutionary ancestors the amphibians.  One is skin covered with scales, and the other is eggs enclosed in a water-tight shell.  Still, despite their water-saving adaptations, many species of turtles, snakes, and of course alligators and crocodiles live in aquatic areas, from wetlands to rivers to the ocean.  Over 7000 reptile species are known worldwide, and Virginia is inhabited by about 10 species of lizards, over 20 species of turtles, and over 30 species of snakes.  Thanks to Mr. Gramann for permission to use this week’s music.

For other water sounds and music, and for more Virginia water information, visit our Web site at, or call us at (540) 231-5463. From the Virginia Water Resources Research Center in Blacksburg, I’m Alan Raflo, thanking you for listening, and wishing you health, wisdom, and good water.


A female Loggerhead Turtle—one of five sea turtle species found in Virginia—at Back Bay National Wildlife in Virginia Beach. Photo courtesy of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's National Digital Library, online at

Acknowledgments“Turtles Don’t Need No 401-K” and “Mostly True Songs” are copyright by Bob Gramann, a Fredericksburg, Va., singer-songwriter; used with permission. Mr. Gramann’s Web site is

Sources Used
“Reptiles,” by Laura Klappenbach, at The New York Times’ Web site,, 8/13/12; The Reptiles of Virginia, by Joseph C. Mitchell (Washington and London: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1994); the Web site of the Virginia Herpetological Society, at, 8/13/12; and the “Wildlife Information” Web site of the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, at, 8/13/12.

For More Information
Information on endangered reptile species in Virginia is available from A Guide to Endangered and Threatened Species in Virginia, by Karen Terwilliger and John Tate (Blacksburg, Va.: McDonald and Woodward, 1995.

Diamondback Terrapins are featured in the Virginia Sea Grant article “Terrapin Files,” in the Summer 2012 issue of Virginia Marine Resource Bulletin, online at (this is the Web site for the Bulletin archives).

The “Estuary Education” video series, from the National Estuarine Research Reserve System, online at, has several short videos on reptiles that live in or near water, including the following: American Alligator; Freshwater Turtles in an Estuary; New Jersey Terrapin Close-up; Texas Alligators Q&A; Totally Turtles; Tracking Turtles; Turtle Hospital; Turtle Tales; and Turtle Trails.

Alligators are not native to Virginia but are occasionally spotted. For examples, see “Reston Woman Wrangles an Errant Alligator into Captivity,” Washington Post, 6/29/07; and “Alligator Captured in Virginia Beach Pond,” Virginian-Pilot, 9/10/07.