A not-quite-formed Snapping Turtle.  It’s a little over an inch long; for scale, the leaves in the lower left corner are Myrtle.

I hatched the little critter quite by accident this morning, I assure you.

I’m preparing some soil for grass behind my place and exposed what I thought were several pieces of molded foam buried by the builder along with other building detritus I’d uncovered.  I moved a few pieces to the pile where I was putting non-biodegradable debris, and then noticed that my shovel had split open one of the white objects.

When I picked it up, I found a teal blue shell with a turtle head sticking out.  Turning the hatchling over, I saw that its undershell was only partially formed and that the turtle was still connected to a yolk sack about half the size of the tip of my little finger.  It retracted its head, and I carefully reassembled it and put it back in the hole I’d dug, along with the other eggs I’d mistaken for debris.

Much of the area I’ve been digging is such heavy clay and so interlaced with Black Locust roots that I’ve had to first attack the ground with a pickax and a regular ax and then loppers before I could sink a shovel into it.  I’m grateful that I hadn’t pickaxed or axed the area of the nest because I would have damaged more than the one egg.

I was reminded of a series of photos I’d taken three years ago of the Snapping Turtles mating in Santoli Pond.   I was astonished both by the enthusiasm and the endurance of the mating couple, as their thrashing and splashing lasted close to an hour’s time.  I think some of the stuff they did might be illegal in a few states.

Here are some photos of the romantic, rambunctious reptiles making little turtles:

Who knew Snapping Turtles could have that much fun?

Photos © Carole Clement



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