Every fall, roughly three months after they’re laid, snapping turtle eggs hatch. Like many other turtle species, the hatchlings’ gender is determined by the temperature at which the eggs were incubated during the summer. Eggs at the top of the nest are often significantly warmer than those at the bottom, resulting in all females from the top eggs, and all males from the bottom eggs. In some locations, the hatchlings emerge from the nest in hours or days, and in others, primarily in locations warmer than northern New England, they remain in the nest through the winter.
When they emerge above ground, the hatchlings, without any adult guidance, make their way to the nearest body of water, which can be up to a quarter of a mile away, and once there, seek shallow water. Eggs and snapping turtle hatchlings are extremely vulnerable to predation. Predators include, among others, larger turtles, great blue herons, crows, raccoons, skunks, foxes, bullfrogs, water snakes, and large predatory fish, such as largemouth bass. Older and larger snapping turtles have a much easier time fending for themselves. (Photo: newborn snapper)
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