Saturday, June 6, 2015

Snapping Turtle (Chelydra serpentina) Building a Nest and Laying Eggs

Close-up of a Snapping Turtle Eye and Mouth
We spent an interesting morning at Tamarac Park, Lakeville, Massachusetts.  Originally my idea was to do some more macro photography.  However, we found two snapping turtles (Chelydra serpentina) walking up the  path, at the park.  We took photographs of them making their way up the path and then decided just to watch, because I felt that they were going to find a location to dig their nest and lay eggs.  One of the snapping turtles disappeared for a short time and then started walking back down to the marsh.  The second snapping turtle first went into the grass on one side and then walked up to the small grassy hill and started to dig a nest.  The snapping turtle apparently felt in the first area that she choose was too hard for a nest, so she gave up and traveled further up the hill until she came to where a small tree was growing.  The one thing I noticed both at the new place in the old site was that the snapping turtle seem to snuff the ground to tell an area to select.  The snapping turtle started digging, first with her front legs and claws and then turned around and dug the nest hole with her hind feet and claws, alternating sides.  She continued digging deeper and deeper until the hole was deep and large enough.  Egg laying then began, the snapping turtle would release wanted to wear eggs and then they would be placed into position by the snapping turtles back feet.  Although, I did not count every egg being laid the snapping turtle laid at least two dozen ping-pong ball size leathery eggs.  After finishing Lane the eggs, the snapping turtle then refilled the whole with the dirt that was removed utilizing her back legs and claws.  When finished, off back to the swamp, the snapping turtle went.  The whole episode from the start of the final location for the nest to the finish took about two hours.  It was a fascinating site to watch.  Snapping turtle eggs take 80 to 90 days to hatch.  It depends on the temperature.  The interesting fact is at a temperature of around 68°, the eggs will produce only females.  Eggs that range in the 70 to 72° range, who produced both male and females and those eggs incubated at 73 to 75° will produce only males.
Snapping Turtle Trying to Dig out the First Nest
Snapping Turtle, Leaving the Attempt
Snapping Turtle Looking for a New Site
Snapping Turtle, Sniffing the Ground to Choose the Site for a New Nest
First, the Snapping Turtle Starts Digging with Its Front Claws
Then the Snapping Turtle Uses Its Back Claws to Dig the Nest
Front View of the Snapping Turtle Digging the Nest
Snapping Turtle Continuing to Dig
Snapping Turtle Continuing to Dig
Snapping Turtle Getting Ready to Lay Eggs
Snapping Turtle Laying Eggs in It Uses Its Rear Claws to Pack Them into the Nest 
Snapping Turtle Filling the Hole. After All the Eggs Were Laid
Snapping Turtle Filling the Hole. After All the Eggs Were Laid
Final Result