Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Snapping Turtles

Snapping Turtles Chelydra serpentina

One day in June 2000, I was walking along a foot path beside a railroad bed when all of a sudden I saw a Snapping Turtle in my pathway; I almost stepped on it! It was huge and prehistoric looking and its long saw-toothed tail brought the image of a Stegrasaurus' tail to mind! We realized it was in the process of laying eggs for it stayed and stayed and stayed in the same location, and the earth was in a disturbed condition all around it; so we left to give it privacy to continue its task. Later that day we marked the location of its nest site and we kept checking periodically that summer on the days following to assure ourselves that the nest site remained intact. And our summer long vigilance was rewarded in the fall of that year, for on the first day of October, we saw 20 minature Snapping Turtles emerge, one at a time, out of a tunneled hole that they had dug up through the nest site. Upon surfacing they immediately headed in the direction of the river which was a distance away, and an arduous trek as they had to manouver their way through tall grasses down a steep embankment. Since that first encounter we always see Snapping Turtles each June and this year has been no exception.

Two weeks ago I saw three Snappers in a nearby pond basking in the sun while placidly floating on the top of the murky water.

And upon checking that same location a couple of days later I found one of the turtles (photo to the right below) was out of the water resting on the sandy edge of the pond.

A word of caution is prudent here for one should
never get too close to a Snapping Turtle as this

could create a danger to you
They have a surprising long reach with their neck and powerful jaws and these big turtles can move quite quickly when necessary for self protection.

I use a telephoto lens when taking photos and I always keep a respectful distance away when I encounter these big creatures and I never linger long as I do not want to intrude upon their privacy.

On the weekend past I saw a turtle laying eggs alongside the railroad bed again, as in previous years. (see the picture below)

While out walking yesterday crossing a bridge I saw a turtle in the river below; waiting in the water by the shore. As we have learned from previous years of observation it is probably likey that this turtle would soon make its long climb up the embankment to the railroad bed to create a nest site for its eggs. Sometimes within a 24 hour period we might notice some egg laying activity has taken place.

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