It’s egg laying season for our local turtles, and I visited with a mom yesterday when she was digging a hole for her eggs. It’s both a happy and a scary time for them. The mean blue jays watch the turtles when they lay, and wait until they finish to dig up the eggs and eat them. It takes most of the day digging and laying, and I’m terrified of running them over with the mower before they’ve had a chance to do their thing. I take a long time scouting each area of the yard before starting that engine. These wonderful creatures are in trouble, and we need to take care of them!
Painted turtles are the most common freshwater turtles in the Northeast, but even so, their numbers are shrinking rapidly. In doing my research about these creatures this morning, I found a lot of articles about the danger of extinction of our country’s turtles. Freshwater turtles lay far fewer eggs than their saltwater cousins…only about 5 or 6, and the odds are against them from the start. Usually only 1 from each nest will make it back to the water alive, but with roads to cross, and polluted ponds to live in, they’ve hardly got a chance at all.
I won’t go into all the depressing details here, but if you’re interested, and want to know more, HERE is a really good place to start.
When I first spotted the eggshells on my lawn, I thought “Oh Cool!.. The baby turtles are hatching!” After my research this morning, I realized that it could be that they were just laid as well… BUT there’s a chance it could be that the eggs were laid last summer, and these empty shells are a happy birth. My research said: “The Gestation for a painted turtle is 20-340 days. In some rare cases the eggs may not hatch until the next spring. The turtles may also spend the winter in their nest. The average is 70-80 days from when they were laid.” So there’s a chance they made it, Right? I hope so! From the picture, it looks like a lot of yolk in that shell to the right, but it’s just a paper thin lining along the outside. I’m hoping that if a bird ate it, they wouldn’t have left that bit. I refuse to give up hope.
And here’s Mama digging her hole.. her back legs were kicking the dirt up behind her
She’s a little pissed off at me in this last pic… can you blame her?
I left her alone after this so she could do her thing… I promise. As soon as I backed off, the dirt was flying again.