Thursday, May 26, 2016

Painted Turtle Hatchlings

Painted Turtle Hatchlings 2016

During the Summer of 2015, Westmoreland's College Interns and I worked on enhancing and expanding an area known for turtle nesting.  This location has been used for many years by Eastern Box Turtles (Terrapene carolina carolina) and Eastern Painted Turtles (Chrysemys picta picta).  We opened the area up for more sunlight, turned over areas to loosen soil and patrolled the area regularly for signs of turtles nesting.  

While finding a turtle laying eggs is rare, we were able to see a female Painted Turtle laying and we protected the nest with fencing. Predation by raccoon, fox, and even Coyote is very common and each year, we find signs of nest predation.  

All summer, the eggs incubate underground. Painted turtles eggs incubate for roughly 72 days and will hatch in late August into early September. Early hatchlings will head straight to water.  If they are a late hatch, they will stay in the nest and overwinter until Spring.  That is exactly what our little guys did and in late March 2016, two quarter size turtles dug themselves out of the nest and into the predation protection cage.  This gave us a great opportunity to take some photos and reap the rewards of all the hard work.

We do a lot of turtle monitoring and conservation work each year and if you are interested in learning how you can help or have turtle questions, please leave a comment or email me at sricker@westmorelandsanctuary.org

I hope you will come out to one of our conservation days, public programs or just take a walk out on our trails soon.  Upcoming conservation dates and programming information can be found on our website www.westmorelandsanctuary.org.

Until next time, Happy Hiking!

Steve Ricker
Director of Conservation