It finally happened.  We had 36 baby Snapping Turtles, emerging over 5 days plus 8 eggs that didn’t hatch.  On October 8, 12 hatched, the next day one hatched, on October 10, 20 emerged, the next day 3 more and finally on October 12, just 2 more.  The last five were smaller and were slower to move so we kept them in an unheated mudroom overnight.  The last two still had not fully absorbed their egg sacks so we feared they wouldn’t make it but the next morning they were moving a little so I hoped for the best and deposited them in the muddy fringes.  To my delight they began to move forward together.  In every case, we let the hatchlings wander about in a large shallow tray for a few hours to ensure they were active before taking them down to the river.  We have never had any hatchlings this late in the year.  The remaining eggs will stay covered over winter in case there’s a chance they might hatch in the spring which I gather can happen.

During the past sixteen years we have had 166 successful snapper hatchlings, and several of those events took place over a few days.  In 2014 the eggs hatched over 9 days; in 2017, 3 days; in 2019, 4 days; in 2023, 5 days.  Therefore, we never assume all the eggs will hatch in one day.  This year (2023), as eggs were still in the nest after 5 days, we kept protecting them for about a week.  After that, we filled in the nest-hole and covered it over for the winter.   According to the Ontario Turtle Conservation Centre, some eggs may still hatch in the following Spring.  Over the years we have also noted that the  nest itself is a “Butternut Squash” shape, with a pathway heading downward leading to a rounded-out chamber for the eggs.  Mother snapper is an incredible excavator!

Stephenie Armstrong, Warsaw

Categories: Sightings

Drew Monkman

I am a retired teacher, naturalist and writer with a love for all aspects of the natural world, especially as they relate to seasonal change.