Top Photo: Eastern painted turtle heads back to water after laying eggs.
Painted turtles come ashore each spring and summer to lay eggs. They deposit 2 – 6 eggs in a hole dug by themselves. The eggs take from 70 – 80 days to hatch with some young remaining in nest until the following spring.
The turtle’s eggs, like the other aquatic turtles in our wetlands, are frequent victims of predation by terrestrial mammals, raccoons, foxes, and even squirrels. When we witness an aquatic turtle laying eggs, actually see her in the act, we’ll wait for her to finish digging, laying eggs, covering up her nest and finally leave the site.
To keep predators at bay we sprinkle cayenne pepper over the site, which discourages the would be nest robbers from digging up and devouring the eggs. So far, each nest we’ve treated with hot pepper has successfully made it through the critical first night, and in fact, has made it through to the entire season (If they make it through the first night without being dug up they’ll probably make it through the season).
This nest has an excellent chance of making it through the season. As I write this, two days later, it has not been raided or molested in any way