Turtles Out A-laying

June 1, 2011 | Greg Dodge

The Wetland’s turtles have been up and walking about the paths and woods of the Museum for the past few weeks. What are they doing? Why, laying eggs of course.

Animal Keeper Mikey spotted this E. Painted Turtle in the mulch next to the Red Wolf Exhibit. Here, she is dutifully covering up her nest after a morning of egg laying.

After her nest was covered and she had determined that I was not a threat to her, she headed back to the Wetlands.

Mikey backs out of the keeper’s entrance to Black Bear Exhibit. Don’t worry, Mikey is very careful around the animals that he loves so. He waited for the turtle to safely cross the path before proceeding.

There were many reports of turtles out and about during the past few weeks.

Ranger Sara showing excitement over seeing a Yellow-bellied Slider who was headed for the Wetlands after her egg laying trip in Catch the Wind.

“What’s up wit dat?”

Kristin gets a quick shot with her phone.

Legend has it that this big yellow-bellied (Chip) was injured by some machinery many years ago. She was placed into the water by a staff member and apparently healed on her own.


A close view of “Chip’s” damaged shell.

Here’s the same turtle back in March of this year. She’s the only turtle in the Wetlands that can be reliably identified on a consistent basis.

So, with all of the turtles climbing out of the water to look for nest sites, please be careful and respectful when you see them while you navigate the paths and trails of the Museum. I know that you will.

Note: The turtles above that Kristin and Sara are observing/photographing, and that I photographed, were headed back to the water after completing their missions, egg laying. If you see a turtle on or beside the path, or one that is obviously laying eggs, please leave it be. These water turtles sometimes walk great distances and cross difficult terrain to find nest sites and if disturbed will abandon their mission, even after digging a hole in which to lay her eggs. This is at a great physical cost to them. I photographed the painted turtle at a distance with a telephoto lens while hiding behind a recycling bin so as not to harass the turtle as it covered up its eggs.

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