Saturday, June 22, 2019

Turtles 2019

Fresh turtle eggs seem to be on everyone's menu. All of Ontario's eight turtle species are now at risk of disappearing. Biologists might be able to identify the cause. Perhaps shrinking habitat, road kills, predators? Endangered species now have little protection from developers with money.

These quiet reptiles spend a year preparing to lay their clutch of eggs. The least I can do is protect the few nests that I see. I brought in a load of limestone screenings and placed it around boulders and the foundation of the home. The screenings are heavier than sand and I am betting that the turtles will like digging in it as opposed to either sand or 3/4 inch gravel. Turtles also like to dig their nest along a hard barrier so that at least one side is secure or so I suppose. They are like ninjas and although turtles are supposed to be slow, you can't take your eye off them as they search for that perfect nesting site. They labour under often hot conditions digging a circular hole more than 6 inches deep. Once they find The Spot, it takes about an hour at least to do the rest. They cover up their nest and then leave the eggs to their own fortune. The marks left in the screenings are characteristic. The problem is they also look like the marks left by the cat covering her business. I am sure that the predators can smell the difference but I cannot.

I would estimate about 40 or more turtles use the rocky ledges around the eastern bay of Singleton. Nests average around 10 eggs but a huge snapping turtles did hatch 29 babies from a nest a few years back. I am able to protect maybe 10 clutches of eggs a year. Many nests are predated and perhaps there are a few that both the varmints and I do not find. Let's hope.

I have had to up my protection as the wily raccoons and skunks have become more determined as well. I designed a commercial turtle protector but until someone who welds comes along, I will make do with the steel grates and wooden frames. Heavy grates are placed right to the surface so as to not encourage any excavation from the sides by the varmints. These are replaced my raised grates in late August so that the baby turtles have an escape route.

Painted, northern map and snapping turtles predominate but there are a few musk turtles. They are all safe on the eastern shore of Singleton. Nests that I do not witness are typically predated and that's when I find them. Everyone needs to eat but... 

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