Backyard Nature Discoveries: Midland Painted Turtle

From Homebase in Oak Harbor, Kimberly Writes: When we began the project of converting 1/2 an acre of grass into a prairie, we knew it would be a lot of hard work. But we never lost sight of the benefits, both to wildlife - and to us. We knew it would be better than mowed lawn, but this little dab of habitat has brought more joy and discovery to our lives than we could have ever dreamed of. For example. . .
On one of our evening walks through the prairie recently, Kenn reached out and gently stopped me. Pointing to a spot several feet ahead of us along the trail, he whispered,"Well, look at that!" And there, in the mowed trail through our little prairie, a female Midland Painted Turtle was gracing us with the honor of laying her eggs.

 We watched for several minutes until her work was completed...

...and we followed her from a safe distance as she made her way back towards our pond. 

It was shocking to see how far she'd traveled in order to lay her eggs in a spot she felt safe. Kenn stepped it off, and it was at least 150 feet.If you look closely in the photo below (L), you can see Kenn standing on the edge of the pond. Our little turtle started from there, came all the way down this section of the path...
...and all the way to the spot in the distance where you can see the circle of chicken wire protecting the nest. Quite a feat for a small turtle!

An fascinating fact about reproduction of many Ohio turtle species is that the sex is determined by the temperature at the time the eggs develop. Warmer temps produce females and cooler temps produce males. Within the same nest, the warmer eggs at the top can all hatch out as females, while the cooler eggs at the bottom will be males.

The incubation period is 10 - 11 weeks, so we'll keep tabs on them and hopefully we'll be able to share some images of the hatchlings as they make their way to the pond.


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