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The eggs hatched!!!

Snapping Turtle laying eggs in Black Plastic

Snapping Turtle laying eggs in Black Plastic

At the end of May, this spring we headed to the fields to plant tomatoes and peppers on the black plastic mulch. We were surprised to find a large snapping turtle laying her eggs in the black plastic as well. We observed her very quietly not to disturb her; it was amazing to watch her work. She filled the hole with white ping pong ball looking eggs, she then meticulously scooped dirt back into the hole, and packed it down with her hind feet. After she was done she quickly left the field and headed back to the river.

Snapping Turtle laying eggs

Look at all the moss on her back

Before we were there, she had dug 15 different test holes, before choosing the spot she would lay the eggs. All these extra holes meant a lot of extra work to fix the drip irrigation she tore through, but worth it for such a cool wildlife sighting. We also contacted our herpetology professor from university. Who informed us snapping turtles are now listed as “Special Concern” because of some signs of threat.  The biggest threats are nest/egg predation (mammals, but especially raccoons), trapping for meat, and road mortality. He thought it was a very interesting observation, as he had never heard of this happening before.

Through out the summer we continued to check on the nest, making sure it remained unharmed, and to see if the eggs hatched. This weekend 95 days later the baby turtles hatched from the nest. Unfortunately we did not get to see them hatch. But we know that they have hatch because of the escape tunnel coming from below the nest. After emerging from the nest, they probably quickly headed for cover in the long grasses and meadow before getting to the river. We were excited to see that the eggs had hatched a first step in survival