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Posts tagged “Chelydridae

Snapping Turtles Laying Eggs

6-11-13 snapping turtle eggs IMG_8932It’s that time of year again, when female aquatic turtles, including Snapping Turtles, are leaving their ponds to lay eggs. You are looking between the front and hind legs of a Snapping Turtle in this picture. The 30 to 40 eggs she’ll probably lay look like ping pong balls, only slightly smaller. As each egg is laid, she moves her front foot back to meet the egg, in what looks like an effort to ease it gently down into the pile of eggs below. When finished, she will bury the eggs and return to her pond. In three or four months, the eggs will hatch, and usually the young turtles emerge and head for the nearest pond (sometimes they overwinter underground). The sex of the turtle that hatches from each egg is determined by the temperature the egg was while it was incubating underground.

Snapping Turtle Eggs Hatching

Every fall, roughly 3 months after they’re laid, snapping turtle eggs hatch. The hatchlings’ gender is determined by the temperature at which they were incubated during the summer.   In some locations, they emerge from the nest in hours or days, and in others they remain in the nest through the winter.  When they emerge above ground, the hatchlings often do so within a few hours of each other.  Somehow (questions remain as to exactly how) they navigate to the nearest body of water, which can be up to a quarter of a mile away, and once there, seek shallow water .  Look for young hatchlings in small brooks near ponds that are known to have adult snappers.  (White object is part of the egg shell that surfaced with this hatchling.)