Snappers Abound

By John Harrod, Manager, DuPont Environmental Education Center

The DuPont Environmental Education Center has a healthy population of Eastern Snapping Turtles and they have been a common sight for many recent visitors. Large adults are likely to be seen lumbering across and lounging in the marsh and much smaller yearlings have been seen swimming at the pond’s surface.

Eastern Snapping Turtle. Photo by Jim White.

Even if don’t see them, you may find evidence of a snapper’s presence. We have seen tracks left by adults in the muddy ground next to the building. The tracks are identified by widely spaced rows of shallow depressions with a slightly sinuous line in-between them, which is caused by the tail dragging on the ground.

Snapping Turtle tracks. Photo by John Harrod

Female Snapping Turtles seek out dry, sandy areas to lay eggs. In late spring, a female was spotted on the abandoned railroad berm laying its ping-pong ball sized eggs. Eggs typically hatch 2-3 months later , depending on the temperature and rainfall, after which the young then make their way to the safety of the water.

Female laying eggs. Photo by Meghan Hawkins.

Unfortunately, this mother’s young did not make it. The nest was found to be dug up by a predator, likely a fox or raccoon, and eggs made an easy meal.

Remnants of the nest. Note the scattered egg shells. Photo by John Harrod.

Come look for snapping turtles and other wildlife on our adult and teen canoeing trip  on the Christina River on July 21.

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