The Way of the Turtle

By Marilyn Hartman

This is our annual visitor, the mamma snapping turtle, about 2 feet from the tip of her nose to the end of her tail.

She skulked around our yard for three days, digging in numerous places, before she finally found the spot she wanted to lay her eggs.


Eggs are temperature sensitive, so she looks for the proper sun exposure and dirt temperature.  The first day we saw her (and she's about a week and a half early this year, presumably due to the warm winter and spring), it was pouring rain and blowing a gale, and Bill almost ran into her as he was going down to the waterfront to see where our boat went -- dock, with boat attached, had moved downwind about 50 feet along the shore.

She checked out my garden, digging where cukes and zucchinis were planted and then digging near a tomato plant (and chomping the top off!)

Then she checked out the top of the pile of crushed stone....

On the third day she was out here, after revisiting several sites, she finally settled on laying them in a pile of gravel.


56 of them (she's very productive!), like liquid-filled ping-pong balls, each about an inch in diameter.  I carefully re-deposited them in another hole (and marked it) as I needed to fill a trench with the gravel in which she laid them.  As you may know, the survival rate of eggs is VERY LOW, and even if they hatch the hatchling survival is low too.

We can always tell when the big mamma is finished laying because she immediately heads back to the lake, going over our 4-5 foot bank head first, somersaulting and landing on her back on the rocks, flailing her legs to right herself and swimming off....

                                                                 ........Marilyn Hartman