Snapping Turtle Tale

Sometime in the first week of June, I came home to a message on my phone.  "Call me.  I have a turtle question."  This was my cousin Jeff, so I called back to see what was up.

Jeff lives east of me on 15 acres.  He told me that he heard his dogs barking and went out back to see what the commotion was.  They were barking at a very large snapping turtle that would not be slowed down from her determined walk toward his house. 

After putting his dogs up, he went back to find her digging a hole.  It was then that he called me.  When I called him back, he said that she had been laying eggs and was trying to cover them up. "She doesn't even care that I am watching," he said.  We talked for a while about how fortunate he was to have seen all of this. 

I got out my handy dandy reptile book and looked up how many days it would take before the eggs hatched.  The book said that incubation took between 55 and 125 days.  I suggested that he put something protective over the area-a clothesbasket, plastic milk carton, etc.

The weekend of the 9, 10, 11 of September we had a family picnic/camping trip in the Ozarks.  Jeff was there and very excited.  He told me that he had circled a day on his calendar, sometime between the 55 and 125 days of incubation.  He could not wait any longer when that circled day rolled around and went to the nest, gently uncovering the clutch of eggs.  There were a few un-hatched eggs, a lot of empty shells, one dead baby and five that were doing great.

He picked up the live babies and carried them down to his creek only to find that it had dried up.  He knew there was a pond in a nearby field so he walked over with his hands full of babies.  There he set them down on the edge of the pond where they went right into the water.  What a kick it was to see a grown man as excited as Jeff was about being part of something like this.  His exact quote was, " This was the neatest d.....thing I have ever seen."

(Story by a Lakeside Volunteer.  Photo Credits: Snapping turtle laying eggs, Minnesota Herpetological Society, Photographer: Tony Gamble; Snapping turtle nest, Minnesota Herpetological Society, Photographer: Tony Gamble; Baby Snapping Turtle from National Parks Service)