Wildlife Wednesday 06/19/2024

The Common snapping turtle is the largest species of turtle in Ohio, with some full-grown individuals weighing well over 35 pounds. While they achieve massive size as adults, when first hatched they measure only 2-3 centimeters, or about the size of a quarter!

Peak egg-laying season in Ohio is during the months of May and June and females are often spotted crossing roads and venturing into neighborhoods and yards in search of suitable nest sites. Even though they spend most of their time in the water and are seldom even seen basking, they build their nests and lay their eggs on land. 

A female will dig a hole about 5-7 inches deep in which to lay, depositing up to 80 eggs. She then uses her back legs to bury the eggs for protection and incubation. She leaves the nest on its own and returns to her home habitat. Hatchlings emerge in September. Many eggs and young turtles are eaten by predators but since so many eggs are laid in each nest, some are bound to survive. The sex of the turtles is determined by the temperature of the environment. Cooler temperatures result in male hatchlings while warmer temperatures cause females to hatch.

Baby turtles venture into the world and fend for themselves upon hatching. If you notice a turtle needing assistance crossing a busy street or sidewalk, whether a youngster or an adult, it is important to move it in the direction it was heading and not change its course. Mature snapping turtles can be feisty when out of water so take care to keep the head away from your body and hold the turtle by the shell behind its back legs. Do not pick up a turtle by its tail as this can cause spinal injury to the animal.

Pictured is a recent snapping turtle visitor in the parking lot of our interpretive building!

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