A Blog by Carl Zimmer

When Baby Snapping Turtles Reach the Edge of the World

Despite living in the carotid artery of Northeast traffic, I still share my property with a particularly prehistoric kind of wildlife. Each spring, monstrous snapping turtles emerge from the salt marshes and rip up our garden to lay eggs. Then in late summer the baby turtles hatch and crawl out of the mulch to head for the water again.

This was the scene outside our front door (I highly recommend setting the movie to full-screen). The baby snapping turtles, each the size of a jumbo chicken egg, crawled to the light one by one and clambered onto our stone steps. As this video demonstrates, baby snapping turtles deal with these unexpected situations without much hesitation. They climb to the edge of their world and keep going.

10 thoughts on “When Baby Snapping Turtles Reach the Edge of the World

  1. Love the little turtles. Last year I found one trying to get inside the building where I work – the only explanation for him (or her) being there was that he/she was dropped by a bird. I was surprised he hadn’t gotten stepped on by all the people passing over him. Or her.

  2. I raised some baby snappers from eggs I extracted from a large female that was hit by a car on a local highway. Out of the 22 eggs, many of which were dented (from the impact I guess), I became the proud father of 6 adorable zombie turtles. Even if only one egg had hatched, I would have felt successful. I highly recommend doing this if any of you come across a freshly deceased turtle of any type, assuming it isn’t flattened. All the (species-specific) info you need, about temperature, humidity , substrate, etc, can be easily found on the internet and is pretty cheap and available at any hardware store. Cheers!

  3. I’ve had a special affection for Common Snapping Turtles for a long time. I spent many summer afternoons watching them up in the Hudson Valley of NY. This was fueled a wonderful book I read sometime in the 60’s, named Minn of the Mississippi (http://www.amazon.com/Minn-Mississippi-Holling-C/dp/0395273994). I don’t see them as often now, but I do sometimes. I’ve got some photos of them and others on my web page here: http://www.rickubis.com/rick/brazturtle.html

  4. We used to watch the same phenomenon at our home in Michigan many years back. In the day, we thought it was clever to feed the adults hamburger on a loooooong stick. We also watched them take down ducks in our pond in a rather brutal, primal way.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *