Turtle Report

I’ve gotten several reports over the last two weeks of turtles laying eggs at various locations around the Museum’s outdoor areas, places like the Train Station and the Red Wolf Overlook. The turtles were, according to descriptions given me, Yellow-bellied Sliders and at least one Eastern Musk Turtle. Unfortunately, I wasn’t on site at the time and the turtles went unmarked or, if they had marks on them, they were not recorded as such.

Yesterday (6/13) around 9 AM, a call came in on the radio from David Wilkinson from Exhibits saying that there was a turtle near the entrance to the Lemur Exhibit. I rushed to the site and there I saw Animal Keeper, Aaron Dye watching over a Yellow-bellied Slider next to the walkway leading to the Lemur Overlook.

A closer look at the turtle and I could see marks on her shell, two “V” notches on the front marginal scutes and after brushing away accumulated mud and algae from her shell I could see that there was a notch in one of her posterior marginal scutes. It was 92-01, a female that I had first seen and marked on May 24 as she was headed towards the Outdoor Classrooms in the woods opposite the Lemur House.

Yellow-bellied #92-01 makes another appearance. Arrows point to the “V” shaped notches in her marginal scutes (6/13/12).
The arrow points to a notch in the last marginal scute on her left side (6/13/12).

On this encounter, after taking several photos and being released, #92-01 struck off in a northerly direction towards the fence which surrounds the Lemur Enclosure.

Two hours later I received another call on the radio about a turtle up at the Outdoor Classrooms. Summer Camp is happening now and the Camp vs Wild campers were at the site.

When I arrived, there was a turtle covering up her apparent nest, presumably filled with eggs. The campers were in a circle around her as she went to work pushing mud, sticks, and pine needles on top of the nest with her hind legs. It was Yellow-bellied Slider 92-01 once again. She had made her way up to the Outdoor Classrooms and dug her nest within five feet of one of the classroom structures.

Slider 92-01 steady at work covering her tracks as the campers watch. The sticks were placed there by the campers (6/13/12).

Although I’m not sure whether or not she actually laid eggs in the nest (sliders are known to make false nests) I’m going to keep an eye on it to see what develops. We may get our answer sometime in September when the eggs, if any, are due to hatch.

Questions: Did 92-01 continue on and lay eggs on May 24 when I first saw her? She was headed in the direction of the Outdoor Classrooms at that time. Has she been out looking for nest sites between May 24 and June 13 or were these her only trips ashore?



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