Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Painted Turtles

Dear Friends,


We have some new friends at the Rookery! A few days ago, Seth Tudor happened upon a pair of painted turtles laying eggs in our sandy/gravel driveway. There is a pond right behind the Rookery, so we see painted turtles occasionally, but we've never had any nests! Seth very carefully marked the nests with bricks and made sure to tell us all not to disturb them.


We all did a bit of research because we were curious to see when they would hatch. It looks like (Thanks to Wikipedia) they take approximately 72-80 days to hatch. We spotted them on May 24th laying their eggs, so we have a pretty good idea when to look for them to hatch now, though another source told us it really depended on the weather. Wikipedia also tells me, "Females prefer soft, sandy soil with good exposure to the sun for their nest site. Nests are dug with the turtle's hind feet, usually within 200 metres of water. The nest is no deeper than 10 to 12 centimetres. The females will lay 4 to 15 oval, soft shelled eggs, in a conical flask-shaped hole. The eggs are elliptical, white to off-white and are mostly smooth with slight pits. Once the eggs are laid the mother will cover the hole with dirt or sand and leave the nest unattended." 

 (above photo from wikipedia.com)

Look at those gorgeous colors on that painted turtle! I also read that the turtles hibernate for the winter in up to 3 feet of mud under up to six feet of water, for up to 5 months in temperatures of about 37 degrees F. Fascinating to know that is how they survive our cold winters, insulated in the mud. Wikipedia says that is, "longer than any other known air-breathing vertebrate." 

I will be sure to let you know if we are able to see them hatch!
On a lovely Vermont Wednesday,
Natalie

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