Snapping turtle laying eggs before she was run over by a vehicle
The local snapping turtle made her appearance on July 19, much to my surprise. During 2009 and 2010, she deposited her eggs on June 16 and 14, respectively. She was so late this year that I thought she might not have made it through the winter. Unfortunately, as she was headed back to the stream, someone was good enough to run over her on the shoulder of the road. It was raining hard at times and visibility wasn’t great so maybe it was an accident.
It will be interesting to see what happens with the eggs. If the baby turtles take about 90 days to hatch again, they may encounter some cool weather and be too late to survive. If they hatch about 30 days earlier, the baby turtles may be too small to survive.
Turtle menacing a quarter
It appears that the local 2010 snapping turtle migration is overÂ and it was quite a disappointment. Last year, more than 20 turtles made the journey from driveway to stream, but this year only 4 newly-hatched turtlesÂ were observed.
Turtle about to destroy convertible
Newly-hatched snapping turtle from above
Why weren’t there as many turtles as last year?
There may not have been as manyÂ eggs as last year. Without disturbing the eggs, it is not easy to find out how many have been laid. Last year, some eggs were broken by a vehicle driving over the nest and this year, the mother turtle seemed to have as much time as she needed, so a reduced number of eggs seems unlikely, butÂ is possible. Maybe the number of eggs was about the same, but the hatch rate was reduced? The eggs are buried in the ground so weather shouldn’t be much of a factor and snapping turtles are found over a large area with considerable variability in climate, so weather probably isn’t a factor.
Maybe there were as many baby turtles this year as last year, but theyÂ just weren’t observed. This seems unlikely.Â The turtles have limited options as they make their way downhill from the nest to the stream. Unfortunately, they encounter difficulties no matter which way they choose. Even if the cold-blooded turtles made a mad dashÂ during a chillyÂ night, only aÂ small fraction of them could have completed the trip before daylight.
Maybe the turtles were eaten as they emerged from the ground. This seems like a cruel possibility, but it has to be considered. It also seems unlikely. The hole where the turtles emerged wasn’t enlarged by a predator. No non-edible turtle bits were found anywhere near the nest or along the path to the stream. Even if the predators were birds, they probably wouldn’t fly off too far with a little turtle and no little turtle bits were seen close to any likely perches.
Maybe next year will bring a snapping turtle resurgence.