Mama Snapper

In late May I witnessed a snapping turtle excavating a shallow bed in the soft dirt of our garden. When she was satisfied her nest was just right, she backed her tail section in and busied herself  laying eggs.

This is all terribly exciting for me, as I’m married to a guy who has put his foot down about any new animal adoptions, whether it chicks, goats (what better way to mow our new meadow), kittens, or for heaven sake, even puppies. Well guess what? This momma is laying somewhere between 20 – 40 golf ball sized eggs, right here in our backyard.

So I guess you could say we’re expecting! Mid to late August we’ll have a brood of pet store sized baby turtles, born with a freshwater meter that points them to the nearest pond.

Life is tough in the wild. 90% of the nests are pillaged by raccoons, skunks and crows. Fortunately with two Labs watching over the yard, I’ve seen no evidence of predators.

The babies are born with soft shells, and once their shells harden, they are only preyed upon by people.

There is a hunting season for snapping turtles in the state of Connecticut that begins July 15th. The new bag limit is 10 per hunter, down from 30. Turtle meat is considered a delicacy, especially in Asia.

Personally I’m not interested in exploring the potential cuisine to be plundered from reptiles. I’d much rather these baby turtles make it to the local pond and contribute their mysterious role in the balance of our local environment. They are scavengers, helping to keep insects, spiders, frogs, snakes and aquatic plants in check.

DSC_0621We were a bit alarmed last week to find Mama Snapper on our lawn quite far away from her aquatic preference, and feared she couldn’t find her way out of our enclosed yard.

JJ hefted her into a box and toted her across the driveway to a wetland in the direction she appeared to be headed.

Interestingly, snapping turtles don’t have a carapace with retractable gear like other turtles. Their long neck and tail are formidable, and beg not to be messed with.

The babies are more my speed. Come August, I’ll be on the lookout for them.

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