Top Photo: Yellow-bellied slider returning from early morning egg laying near Butterfly House.
It’s aquatic turtle nesting season. Our sliders, musk, painted, and snapping turtles all come ashore during this season to dig nests and lay eggs. They may travel quite a distance from water to do this, from Hideaway Woods to Earth Moves and all points in between.
If you happen to see one of these turtles digging a nest, or hiking across one of our paths, give it a wide birth. Getting too close to their nest may leave your scent in the vicinity which will draw in predators like raccoons, o’possum, and gray fox. Those mammals often associate human scent with food. They’ll dig up the nest and eat the eggs. I’ve witnessed one plundered nest already this season.
If you see one of our turtles on the path, leave it be. Though it may appear it needs our help, it doesn’t. Turtles have been performing the duty of hauling out, finding suitable nest sites and making it safely back to their respective ponds for millions of years before we humans were around.
We expect to see turtles out on the paths at least until the end of August. So if you run into one or two, don’t worry, the turtles will be fine. Don’t block their way. They’ll make it back to the pond in their own time and fashion.
By the way, the offspring of early nesters like the one pictured here may be seen crossing the paths and exhibits sometime during August through October. Otherwise they’ll stay in the nest until the following March and April.