Snapping Turtle

TreePlanting 028

We helped this snapping turtle cross the road (May 2007, Guelph).  She was probably laying eggs (or planning to lay eggs) on the sandy gravel bordering the road.  I do not often see snappers basking in the sunshine. This next photo was taken while on a canoe trip in Northwest Algonquin Park (July, 2012):

Snapping Turtle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here is a photo that was taken on the beach at the Guelph Lake Conservation Area:

Snapping Turtle Nest, July 2014

Snapping Turtle Nest, July 2014

Snapping turtle eggs are subject to predation by crows, mink, skunks, foxes, coyotes and raccoons.  The most common predator is a raccoon.  The article “Predated Turtle Nests” by naturalist Bob Bowles is well-worth the read if you are interested in turtle tracks and sign.

Predated Snapping Turtle Egg, July 2014

Predated Snapping Turtle Egg, July 2014

“Turtles lay their eggs in high, dry places on land where they can be incubated by the sun’s heat. Female turtles come up on shore every spring in June and dig a hole in the sand, gravel or soil with their back claws. These holes can be as deep as 18 centimeters for larger species like the snapping turtle. They then lay as many as 45 eggs. They cover these eggs with the sand, gravel or soil they removed while digging the hole. They leave the eggs to hatch in the summer sun’s heat and return to the wetlands. Predators like skunks, foxes and coyotes are able to smell the eggs under the ground. They dig up the eggs and eat them. But the masters at predation of turtle eggs are raccoons, digging up several nests in one night and eating all the eggs. Raccoons seldom miss finding freshly laid turtle nests with their sharp noses and can easily dig them out of the ground.” (excerpted from Bob Bowles’ article Predated Turtle Nests*)

*More than 400 predated turtle nests found at Tiny Marsh in June, July 2014, viewed October 15, 2014, http://www.orilliapacket.com/2014/07/11/more-than-400-predated-turtle-nests-found-at-tiny-marsh-in-june

2 thoughts on “Snapping Turtle

  1. I looked at your photo and it looks like a predated snapping turtle nest. Are the eggs approximately “ping pong ball sized”? The main predators of snapping turtle eggs where I live (Guelph, Ontario) are raccoons, skunks and foxes. Foxes tend to leave a pile of soil where they have excavated the nest and I did not see that in your photo so I wonder if it was likely a raccoon or a skunk?

    Anyways, thanks for sending the photo and the question. I hope that helps:)
    Have a great day,
    Tamara

    P.S. More info on snapping turtle eggs (if you are interested…)

    “Females Snapping turtles are known to dig nests in mulch piles (if sandy, gravelly locations are unavailable). The area should remain undisturbed until the hatchlings emerge later this year or next spring. Chicken wire over the nest may help reduce predation as long as the baby turtles can get out.” (Tony Zammit, GRCA)

    According to the Toronto Zoo, if eggs “must be moved” because they were accidentally uncovered:
    •Eggs should only be moved to a nearby location and left in the wild.
    •Carefully lift each egg without rotating, rolling or shaking it. Always keep the top of the egg oriented to the top.
    •Place in an old egg tray or nestle into sand/soil so that the eggs do not roll.
    •Transport to a nearby nest area that is a similar distance from the water body, has a similar orientation to the sun, and a similar substrate material and moisture.
    •Dig a hole to the same depth as the original nest (~8-10″) with a wider bottom than the top (i.e. flask shaped).
    •Carefully place eggs into hole with the eggs ‘top’ upwards in the nest.
    •Lightly cover eggs with soil/sand and then fill in rest of hole
    •It may be necessary to cover the nest with a wire mesh predator guard.”

    A permit from the Ministry of Natural Resources may be required to relocate and handle the eggs.

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