Top Photo: Newly emerged eastern painted turtle makes its way to pond in Explore the Wild.
Tiny hatchling turtles are beginning to emerge from last summer’s nests. On Wednesday March 23, I spotted three fresh-out-of-the-nest eastern painted turtles heading for the wetlands.
These tiny turtles have been underground in the nest for perhaps 200 days or more after having been deposited there by their mother last season as eggs.
If conditions are right the turtles will hatch and dig their way out of the nest in about 75 days. Some, like these three painteds, overwinter in the nest and emerge the following spring.
So, keep an eye out for hatchlings as you walk along the outdoor loop trail. They’re about the size of a quarter and easily overlooked. They could be mistaken for a pebble. We don’t want to step on any of these little guys, especially after they’ve spent so long waiting underground for this moment.
It’s possible you could encounter painted turtles, sliders, musk, or even snapping turtles, all tiny and vulnerable. They may be spotted anywhere along the trail whether in Explore the Wild, Catch the Wind, the Dinosaur Trail, or even the Cafe Plaza. Be on the lookout!