Hello everyone. Isn’t it interesting as we look at life and see the many wonders around us, some of which we are privy too and some we are not. Well one day a few months back we were privy to one of those wonders. It is not every day one can witness a turtle build a nest, see her lay eggs and then see those babies head off only to repeat the cycle again and again. We were blessed to experience one of those days and record it.
It was the evening of June 2, 2016 and we were walking Emma on her long leash through the neighborhood for her evening outing when we noticed her starting to sniff at what appeared to be a large stone. This was of no surprise because as you know dogs sniff anything and everything as if it were some tender morsel of food dropped from the sky. As we looked closer however we noticed this large stone was moving ever so slowly. Quickly we pulled back her leash realizing this rock like thing was a very large snapping turtle digging in the dirt. What on earth was she doing away from the creek that was just beyond the way. As we watched it became clear she was digging a hole to lay eggs. What an incredible moment. We quickly rushed Emma home, grabbed the camera gear, invited a neighbor or two and returned to the site to try and record this magnificent event. Now, for those of you wondering what’s up with the ear of corn we really don’t know the answer. We think someone wondering by earlier thought maybe momma turtle might be hungry after giving birth, lol. Does anyone else have a possible explanation?
At any rate it was not 30 minutes after we got back, the turtle had finished digging the nest and slowly, painstakingly began to birth a series of ping pong ball sized eggs. As each egg left the birth canal momma turtle would carefully catch it with one of her back feet, lower it in the hole and gently position it amongst the others before releasing another. Over and over and over she repeated this process, at least 18 or more times. Intermittingly as each egg was released she would glance over at us as if to acknowledge we were being given special audience to this miracle of the animal kingdom.
When she had finished laying all her eggs she immediately began meticulously covering the hole using her back legs as a shovel and a plow. After every few scoops of dirt placed over the eggs she would stand and tamp it down with her 20-pound body until it was smooth and the hole almost unnoticeable. When she was all finished, she walked a complete circle around the nest as if to survey and admire her work. She then seemed to look at each of us watching in awe before she began walking back toward the path leading to the pond from which she had come. We all sat there entranced by this huge miracle we were witnessing in our community.
On September 6th, 2016 as we were traveling through Michigan we received a telephone call and, upon answering, a voice filled with excitement began exclaiming, “the turtles are hatching, the turtles are hatching, it’s so amazing”. It was our neighbor friend Cassie from back home who was with us the night the eggs were being laid. Cassie had been carefully watching over the nest daily to ensure no predators would disturb it. There was such a hush in our car as we listened to Cassie describe how the little turtles were climbing their way out of their earthen cradle and scurrying toward the trail heading back to the creek which their mother had traveled just 97 days prior. When the call ended, there was an interesting silence in the car as we drove both of us reflecting on that special day the momma laid her eggs and the new friendships formed between those of us witnessing the event.
If you would like to learn more on this topic just click here on the “Turtle Rescue League” for some terrific information we found which puts this amazing event into perspective – “you are witnessing an act that has been taking place for over 200 million years.”
You can also click on this link “The Turtle Gives Birth” to see our September post before we compiled the new video.