SouthCoast Painted Turtles Begin Nesting

Female Painted Turtle 

With bright sunshine and rising temperatures, Tuesday afternoon, May 26th, proved extremely active for painted turtle nesting on the SouthCoast of Massachusetts.  The Turtle Journal team had found the first SouthCoast nesting turtle, a snapper, in the morning, and we had also observed several painted turtle tracks, but only false nests.

Camouflaged Nesting Female Painted Turtle on Bog Bank

With more favorable conditions, Rufus, the famous turtle dog, found several nesting painted turtles Tuesday afternoon.  No matter how camouflaged the turtles might be, like the one pictured above hiding under dense vegetation on a steep bog bank, Rufus sniffs them out.

Rufus Guards Female Painted Turtle

After the turtle is found, Rufus remains motionless until her colleagues respond.  Rufus has trained the humans very well.

Rufus Points Out Nesting Painted Turtle

As she patrolled the upland pathways surrounding the cranberry bog, Rufus found another nesting painted turtle.  As documented in the photograph above, she patiently stands a comfortable distance from the nesting turtle until she gains our attention.

Nesting Female Painted Turtle

Unlike diamondback terrapins that avoid grass for nesting, painted turtles prefer grassy spots to dig their nests.  Unlike terrapins and snappers, painted turtle nests tend to be fairly shallow, only a couple of inches below the surface.

Seven Rescued Painted Turtle Eggs

Rufus discovered an abandoned nest containing seven perfect painted turtle eggs where the mother had apparently been disturbed before covering the nest.  Thanks to her skills, these eggs (and the future hatchlings they promise) were saved from certain depredation.

With snappers this morning and painted turtles this afternoon, the nesting season is now in full swing on the SouthCoast of Massachusetts.

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