From Tiny Eggs, Giant Snappers Grow

From Tiny Eggs, Giant Snappers Grow

Might oaks from little acorns grow, and from tiny eggs giant snapper spring.  At the oozy bottom of every lake and pond in New England lies a 70 pound snapping turtle that began life decades ago as a miniature ping-pong sized egg.  That long process began today for a new generation of snappers.

Rufus Discovers Good Sized Female Snapper

Rainy, humid and murky quiet; these elements comprise the trifecta of ingredients for snapper nesting.  Soil moist and soft for digging, and conditions so miserable that humans and other mammalian predators will eschew wetland bogs.  Yet, Rufus and Sue Wieber Nourse were on hand to find three nesting snappers and to recover 58 eggs for the turtle garden.  The first good sized female snapper was found by Rufus; she (the snapper) decided the better part of valor would be to wait another day for nesting.  (And, no; it’s only an optical illusion in the photo above.  Despite these snapper encounters, Rufus still has four legs.)

Youngish Female Snapper Laying Nest

Around the corner from the first snapper, Sue and Rufus discovered a youngish, ten-pound snapper that had climbed a muddy log pile to deposit her eggs.  A bit bashful, this young lady took nearly two hours to complete the nesting process.

Rufus Guards Snapper and Her 24 Eggs

Her nest contained a total of 24 ping-pong sized eggs that were harvested for a protected nest in the turtle garden.  As is her duty, Rufus kept a watchful eye on the eggs and  the departing mother turtle to ensure their safety.

Young Snapper Female Laying Nest

About five hundred feet down the path, Sue and Rufus encountered a young, but slightly larger female snapper, slowly and calmly carving her nest into the muddy substrate.  Arteries pulsing with the reptilian equivalent of oxytocin, this moment is the one time you can safely approach a snapping turtle as she labors away in a zombie-like nesting trance.

Enormous Dinosaur-Like Tail and Powerhouse Legs

Without being able to see what she’s doing, the female snapper secures her “footing” by driving her dinosaur-like tail into the ground like a spike, as she delicately maneuvers her powerful legs, first to sculpt the egg chamber and then to lovingly tuck each fragile egg into its appropriate place in the nest. 

Thirty-Four Ping-Pong Size Snapping Turtle Eggs

This lady deposited 34 eggs into her nest.  They, too, were carefully harvested for a protected nest in the turtle garden.

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