Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Turtle egg mystery

Near the pond, a critter unearthed and feasted on turtle eggs. The evidence was originally scattered several feet from the hole - I gathered a few of the shells back together for a picture.

Eggs in another nest nearby suffered a similar fate. I'm guessing that the culprit was a raccoon, skunk or opossum, but other turtle egg predators apparently include the fox, armadillo, mink, otter, and weasel.

I tried figuring out which species of turtle these eggs had belonged to, but didn't get very far. Here's where the (as yet to be invented) portable DNA analyzer would have come in so handy.

Several species can be ruled out since the eggs were spherical rather than elliptical, but other than that I couldn't find any key to turtle egg identification.

The eggs may have belonged to one of the two snapping turtles I saw recently, although they seem a bit small for that (not quite ping-pong ball size).

Undisturbed turtle nest.

In researching the turtle egg mystery, I came across an interesting story about a snapping turtle hatchling at the Hilton Pond site, where nest building is also discussed.

And found some more great snapping turtle pictures. (Eating a snake! Eating a fish!)

Even more good snapping turtle info.


Hick said...

Portable DNA analyzer? You are such a nerd...but you take great pictures.

Rurality said...

What tree is this? What's this bud going to flower as? What bird is this feather from? It this a termite? Who pooped this enormous pile o' crap? Come on! It would be great! Of course some people like the detective work... but I'd take a portable DNA analyzer any day.

Ron Sullivan said...

Who pooped this enormous pile o' crap?

There is a tracks 'n' turds field guide in the Peterson series...

Rexroth's Daughter said...

I want a portable DNA analyzer too. What a great idea. We found some fresh scat in our fenced yard, and of course we wondered, what animal had found a way in and left us this little seed-filled offering? Oh to be able to analyze it on the spot.
Nice shots of those poor broken turtle eggs.

roger said...

great pix and turtle info. 45 pounds!!! watch out.

LauraP said...

Portable DNA analyzer - I want one too!

swamp4me said...

I was cruising through my must read list before doing a lunchtime post -- glad I did, cause I was gonna post turtles, too. You beat me to it so now I'm off the hook ;)

Sometimes the eggs never even make it into the hole so laboriously dug by the female turtle. I have watched crows sit behind the turtle and eat the eggs as they are laid. Momma turtle can't stop once she starts though.

shannon said...

I'd bet a raccoon - when I did wildlife rehab in MI, we had to euthanize any racoon - kit or adult- that came in. Not only were their numbers increasing the spread of rabies, but their main offense was absolutely decimating the native turtle pop'ln.

LauraJ said...

Tricorders would probably work, hm?

Thanks for the great link to Hilton Pond. Nice pictures of empty eggs on your own blog, and I hope you get to see some baby turtles.

Kristy said...

I just wanted to say I love your blog. It makes me dream of the days that I can get back to the land in the States! But, in the meantime, maybe I should get out a camera and start taking pictures of the nature that does exist here in Singapore!

Thanks for making my day!


Rurality said...

Yeah if only portable DNA analyzers existed. Or tricorders!

We actually have a couple of those tracking field guides. But it's still hard to tell sometimes, especially with scat... "Wow is this from a really big bobcat, or are mountain lions back in town?"

By the way, there is a really good tracking site here.

Swampy you are sooooo not off the hook for turtles! As for the eggs, I read that Fish Crows are especially bad for that. (Saw one of those down near Montgomery the other day.)

Kristy, yes! I started birdwatching (and nature-watching in general) after most of my travels. Could have kicked myself when I realized what opportunities I'd missed by not having my eyes open while in other countries.

Thanks everybody!

Anonymous said...

We love turtles in this house. But my favorite was seeing the honu in Kona, Hawaii, when they would just come up the beach and rest, and then go back and climb on some lava, then swim right near people. I got to snorkel :)

cookie jill said...

swampthings has some cute turtle baby pictures!


Judy said...

The round eggs look like snappers.
I live on a lake and we have snappers, painted, and musk turtles. All their eggs look different. Something left 5 oval hard eggs in my mulch thre other day, alittle longer then a quarter. I believe they are painted eggs, as I found 2 on my beach heading back to the water.

Anonymous said...

Dear turtle watchers,
We watched a turtle make a nest and lay eggs the other day. The potential for predators is great where we live, so we began researching how to protect them. When we returned nxt day to build a 'pen', we noticed a hole. Are we too late, or do the momma turtles leave a hole for the babies to crawl out? Should we give up already or make more efforts? Thanks.