Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Snapper Time!

They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder. So, if you ask me, we’ve added quite a beauty to our exhibits here at VINS. Featuring powerful jaws and a snorkel-like snout, this Common Snapping Turtle – now on exhibit in Fledgling Corner – is sure to turn heads.

Recently acquired by the VINS Wildlife Services department from a local university that used the snapper for education, this native turtle is set up in a 150-gallon tank where she is clearly visible for visitors to get a great look at her.

The turtle’s debut here is perfectly in sync with a very special time of year for snappers: hatch time! It’s time for snapping turtle eggs – laid and buried by mother snappers in the spring – to crack open and let loose tiny hatchlings who will dig their way up through the soil.


Watch a video of these special little turtles making their way in Vermont.

If you’ve been to VINS this summer, you may have seen areas roped off to protect buried eggs laid by snapping turtles on our grounds. Right now, hatchling snappers – with carapaces (shells) about the size of a half-dollar – are hatching and scrambling across the grass and paths here at VINS and instinctively heading toward bodies of water. With one female snapper laying 25-80 eggs each summer, it’s time to tread gingerly along the walkways here at VINS and to keep one’s eyes peeled for babies! In the photo above, two hatchlings takes their first few steps.

Snapping turtles, common in Vermont and through most of the eastern half of the United States, are the largest freshwater turtles in North America. These big reptiles can weigh up to 35 pounds with a carapace spanning up to 20 inches. They get their name from how they quickly snap their powerful jaws in defense or when biting at prey, so caution is always advised around snappers. While in the wild, these turtles might eat fish, insects, rodents, amphibians, smaller turtles and the occasional bird. Here at VINS, we’ll feed our snapper deceased mice a few times a week.

Its snapper time in Vermont! Come to VINS and get an up-close, clear view of this beautiful chelonian (turtle, or tortoise), like you’ve never seen before.

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