Friday, October 7, 2011

Goodbye, Hello! Snapping Turtles on the Move

Every year in June, female snapping turtles crawl out of the Ottauquechee River and Dewey Mill’s Pond and find sandy soil on VINS’ property to make their nests. The female digs a burrow and lays 25-80 eggs in each nest, then covers the nest with more sandy soil to allow the eggs to incubate. Incubation time is temperature-dependent, but the eggs normally hatch from September to October. The babies dig their way out of the nest-burrow and make their way back to the Ottauquechee, so look for baby snapping turtles on the move!

When the baby snappers hatch they are about the size of a silver dollar, so the Wildlife Staff at VINS transports many of them directly to the Ottauquechee, to prevent members of the public from stepping on them. Wildlife interns Sarah McAteer and Elise Newman waded down the muddy bank of the Ottauquechee on the VINS nature trail to release them into the wild. After some hesitation, they took to the water like pros and swam away.

However, we saved seven of the newly-hatched snappers to put on exhibit in the Nature Nook. We have set up the tank with many more logs and rocks so they can bask and play. Over the next few years, they will grow from the size of silver dollars to the size of a large pizza!

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