Saturday, April 30, 2011

Watching A Turtle Prepare To Lay Eggs

turtle laying eggs in georgia photo copyright by dear miss mermaid
Trachemys scripta
A yellow-bellied slider


The other day I wrote about our encounter around midnight with IT, thinking that what snarled at us sounded like a big wild cat.  I had previously seen a mountain lion about 80 miles downriver of here, back in June 2010. That one I saw for myself, though getting a picture of it was impossible. 


"Hello mountain lion, could you please stand still, wait while I get my camera, turn it on, get it in focus and snap your picture?"


So the next day, puppy dog Harley and I set out hiking, to look for big cat paw prints. I took my camera. We looked all over the yard at the campground, then we headed for the clearing where we often see deer. They too scamper off before I can catch their picture, but I keep trying. So far I have lots of pictures of the clearing, minus the white tailed deer. 


How I wish I had a motion activated solar powered trail cam to leave there. 


In the clearing, I was photographing suspicious tracks. After looking them over on the computer, I see the three dimensional effect is greatly diminished. What I need is Plaster of Paris to make impressions of the prints.  I wandered around, then I would stand perfectly still, for a few minutes,  waiting, listening to see if anything live turned up. 


Well what do I see?  A big turtle!

turtle laying eggs in georgia photo copyright by dear miss mermaid
Big mama turtle, in the clearing. I shortened up Harley's leash, so he couldn't race over to disturb her. From this far away, it appeared as though she was stuck in the mud. I quietly, slowly, tiptoed over to her. 

turtle laying eggs in georgia photo copyright by dear miss mermaid
This yellow-bellied slider had a shell  about 15 inches long, rather large for her species. (I wish I had a dollar bill or a ruler with me to photograph next to her.)   After researching the internet and firing off  emails, two different sources from the Savannah River Ecology Laboratory, wrote me back, both confirming she is a yellow-bellied slider (Trachemys scripta).
A big thank you goes out to both these researchers for their super prompt replies. 

turtle laying eggs in georgia photo copyright by dear miss mermaid
These pictures were actually taken from a distance, then cropped, as I did not wish to stress the mama turtle any, while she laid out her nest and eggs. 

I am very fascinated by the intricate markings on her shell. It has a lot of dried up mud all over it.
I guess she hasn't had a proper bath lately.
Pregnant women have a hard time at everything.

turtle laying eggs in georgia photo copyright by dear miss mermaid
It appears that by the time we stumbled upon the mama turtle, she had already laid her eggs, but was now working to cover her nest back up again. On the flip side, maybe she was just starting to dig her nest, and had not laid a thing yet. I am sorry she chose the open clearing for her eggs. I worry about the babies, when they hatch, will they instinctively know to run for cover in the woods or the lake?  I understand they incubate about 2-3 months in their nest, then are born all alone, minus their mother. Maybe she chose this sunny spot so they would be warmed by the sun when they arrived on earth. 

turtle laying eggs in georgia photo copyright by dear miss mermaid
I decided to leave her alone to finish her business.  Later in the day, I would check back on her progress. 

turtle laying eggs in georgia photo copyright by dear miss mermaid
See you later, mama turtle!



turtle laying eggs in georgia photo copyright by dear miss mermaid
Later, I came back, immediately spotting her nice neat nest. If you look closely, you will see it is almost a perfect circle. She has carefully done her best to disguise the baby eggs, hidden safely beneath the ground.  The red mud is just barely visible. That was one busy lady!
turtle eggs in georgia photo copyright by dear miss mermaid
When I came back the second time, on the other side of the clearing, was this green egg shell, minus the contents.  Did something hatch out of it?  After reading up on the yellow-bellied slider turtle, I found out their eggs are greenish in color.     Did something grab one of her eggs for a snack?  Or is this unrelated to the mama turtle?  When I went back the next morning, I planned to collect the shell, for better photos, to ask those nice researchers again. But the egg shell was no where to be found. 




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2 comments:

  1. That are a great post, wished them folks that are always a postin' pictures of themownselves eatin' or drinkin' would reed yer blog and see how it otter be done. Just don't git no ideas of postin' somethin' about that time you was seen doin' the turtle tutu. :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. I love turtles. Nice pictures -- glad you took them from a distance.

    ReplyDelete

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