(Opening photo: Turtle Hatches 2008)
Guess who we found in the yard today?
Mama Slider, Laying
I knew she was laying as she continued digging / hanging out in the same spot the entire time I mowed the lawn. When she was finished, the kids helped guide her safely back to the creek.
We then eagerly went back to see what goodies she left. Eggs!
A Clutch of Turtle Eggs!
Careful in excavation (a kitchen spoon, paint brush and damp paper towel), the layer of mulch was moved aside, the mucus-moistened ‘dirt plug’ dug out, and eggs removed one at a time. They are kept in the same orientation they fell into the hole (so as not to disturb the embryo), numbered/marked, and transferred into an incubation container on top of moistened substrate.
This will be their comfy, safe home until they are ready to hatch. We did this last in 2008 and have been wanting to repeat the exercise ever since.
The nine eggs will incubate at a carefully monitored temperature (78 to 82 degrees F) indoors for around 60 days. when they will (hopefully) hatch and be released back into the wild of the creek.
Young red-eared sliders are left by their mother to fend for themselves. They rely only on DNA hard-wiring and a temporary umbilicus (yolk sac) to help them grow into adults. Normally, eggs are dug up and eaten by predators (very likely in our ‘hood). If luck is on their side, they will hatch, dig out from their cave, and find their way to water and food entirely on their own.
Watching the process indoors gives them at least a fighting chance at survival. It’s a fun and engaging science project to help with boredom over the summer.
We ♥ Reptilians!