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Saturday, June 20, 2009

Turtle watching



A few days I was startled to see a turtle in the middle of the pathway next to the patio. I looked closer and realized that she was digging a hole in the sand. I had never seen this before - she was using her back feet and would alternate scooping out sand and then use the other foot to scoop out more. She was in this spot all morning. I wasn't sure what was going on and then I realized she was probably going to lay eggs there. I did a little online research and learned that turtles lay eggs and leave them to hatch and the young care for themselves. It can take all summer before the eggs hatch but they are often taken dug up by predators. A person can cover the holes with a wire cage of sorts to protect the eggs but I'm not sure if I want a wire cage in the middle of my pathway all summer. And what do you do if they hatch and you are not there to let the baby turtles out?

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23 comments:

  1. unless you have skunks and racoons in your garden they should be okay. even if you do have either they most likely will not be looking for eggs and prob will be going for your trash can.

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  2. Hi Phillip! She is a fashion lady - she is wearing an animal print coat! And you will have baby turtles in your yard!!! When we lived in the Midwest we watched dozens little turtles crowling toward the lake behind our house, down from the hill where their mamas laid the eggs. It was a pretty wild area with a lot of creatures around. Maybe, your eggs will be safe?! Keep us posted, please!

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  3. I believe there is a woman that lives near Florence that takes care of turtles. She is sort of a 'turtle rescuer'. I'm sure that she could tell you what to do, or even 'rescue' the eggs and bring them to her shelter. Her name is Debbie Marsh, at Mama's Educational Turtle Haven and Rescue 764-5369.

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  4. I wonder if having a lot of safe nooks for them would help. Places where predators, at least the bigger ones, couldn't navigate.

    Please keep us posted.

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  5. I really don't know what the best advice would be other than perhaps let nature take its course.

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  6. How exciting...and what an honor that she chose your garden! It will be busy there in a few months. gail

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  7. I was given the same advice (putting a screen mesh over the eggs) when I thought the snapping turtle was going to lay her eggs in my garden (she never has, at least not where I've seen her). The guy I spoke to told be how long the turtles take to hatch and I would have written down a date on the calendar as to when to remove the mesh. (I have raccoons up the ying yang, so I would have covered the eggs.) Do you know what kind she is? Her shell is much more colorful than my snapper's!

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  8. We have occasionally seen turtles in our yard, too. Earlier this summer, I found where something had dug up the turtle eggs that had been laid at the base of a pine tree. I was so disappointed when I found that. I wish I had known that the eggs where there, I would have tried to protect it.

    Jan
    Always Growing

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  9. I think Rob has a good answer - just let nature take its course. Monica, I'm not sure what kind it is exactly, just a common tortoise I guess. Hi FairyRobyn, thanks for the information about the lady in Florence. That is so cool!

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  10. I agree with Rob -- I wouldn't do anything.

    One of our resident snappers has laid eggs in my garden before -- just about looked as though a dog had dug around!

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  11. Wow, how cool! I'd love to be able to watch something like that. I hope you get to see the babies.

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  12. I had a friend once who recued box turtles like the one in your picture. he kept them in his back yard in a log enclosure. he fed them dry cat food and they would come out when he called them! Neat!

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  13. Hum ... will be interesting to see how you handle this, Phillip. She's a beautiful turtle and obviously has good taste in choosing a lovely home for her nest!

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  14. She's an Eastern Box Turtle. We have quite a few of them in our yard/garden. We take pictures of the shells when we come across them in the garden so we can keep track of which ones we find over and over. Fun for DD and for us, too. :) I read that they often live their entire lives (as long as 60-120 years) withing 800 feet of where they hatch. Interesting!!

    This forum has some info and links regarding moving the eggs, if that is an option.

    Keep us posted. :) ~~Rhonda

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  15. I agree that you should let nature take its course. Isn't it exciting that she chose your garden. She knows a pretty place when she sees one.

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  16. snakes will eat the eggs as will the crows......then snakes like to live in the holes after the babies leave.....make sure to fill in back in.

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  17. I wish I could help you with your turtle egg predicament. She sure is beautiful. Thank you for sharing her with us. I hope to see some cute little baby turtles on your pathway by the end of summer!

    Love your Blog - One of my favorites. I need to look and see if you got your book published?!

    Happy Summer Dear Friend of the Garden.

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  18. I had a snapping turtle digging up a flower bed one year. They can make a mess! I corraled her up and relocated her.

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  19. Wow! That's interesting, Phillip and I'm sure you're checking the place out whenever you can. Hope the babies live to breed their offspring.

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  20. Here's info on moving the eggs, if you'd like to give it a try.

    http://www.paw-talk.net/forums/f90/turtle-eggs-moveable-19163.html

    I didn't get the link in my previous comment! ~~Rhonda :)

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  21. I actually had this same experience two summers ago - long story short, we ended up taking a plastic shoebox filled with damp vermiculite and turtle eggs on vacation with us for a week (this all traveled in its own cooler to avoid temperature variations). All of the eggs hatched while we were in PA, and we transported the babies back to VA, where we released them onto the compost pile, which we then covered for a while with chicken wire to afford them some protection from predators. They burrowed deep into the pile, and we still see them (I assume it's them) around the yard occasionally. It wasn't the easiest vacation ever (incubation, incidentally, was around 75 days), but it was cool and interesting.

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  22. We have the same turtles in our back garden. It's shady and animals don't tend to hang around (other than my dog)...who actually 'could' dig up eggs! But so far, I haven't even thought about them laying eggs. Now I will give it more consideration. I did a brief photo-shoot of the box turtle in my yard...never even giving a thought to the fact it could be laying eggs at some point! Wow, what a neat situation to have. I'd say let nature take it's course, as well:-)

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  23. We had lots of box turtles at our home in OK, but I have not seen any here in S. AL. I miss them! Hmm...wonder if I could have hubby bring one on his next trip down. :)Enjoy yours!

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