Monday, June 8, 2015

Snapping Turtle: Up Close and Personal

The Wellington Reservation, which is part of the Lorain County Metro Parks System and just two miles from my Mom's home in Ohio, is great.  It has miles of hiking paths and we always see lots of animals.  Today's tally included a blue heron, a brilliant scarlet bird, five woodchucks, two deer, a bunch of red wing black birds, and a small black snake.

Saturday, however, we saw something there I've never seen before -- anywhere -- and we saw it up close:  A snapping turtle on land. Laying eggs.

Jim and I rounded a curve on the trail to see a couple with their two daughters watching a big turtle, which was no where near the water and about three feet to the side of the hiking trail.  Mrs. Turtle had dug a hole and was methodically laying eggs about 30 seconds apart.  While I was watching she probably dropped 20 eggs into the ground beneath her.

Jim watched just briefly because it did seem intrusive. I left before she was finished but later saw the couple and their girls; the girls told me the turtle "covered the hole with her hands" when she was finished laying the eggs. I was concerned that once the turtle got out of the throes of labor and realized she was so close to humans, she might scurry off out of fear, so I was glad to hear that.

A line from Wikipedia says, "The common snapping turtle is not an idea pet."  No kidding.  A snapping turtle is not a pet, period.  Had this one not been preoccupied, I doubt that she would have let six people linger four feet away.  They'll usually hiss at people they encounter on land, but this one was focused on the task at hand.
A snapping turtle laying eggs at the Wellington Reservation. The turtle's shell was about 12 inches long.   
The same photo as above, but I lightened the exposure so you can kind of see an egg dropping into the ground behind the rear leg. I read that snapping turtles can lay as many as 40 eggs, which, depending on the temperature, take from nine to 18 weeks to hatch.

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