Saturday, September 10, 2016

Shell YES!

From Homebase in Oak Harbor, Ohio, Kimberly Writes: On July 9th, I shared the story of our encounter with a Midland Painted Turtle laying eggs in our prairie. 


For several weeks we wrestled with what to do. Our yard is frequented by many of the main predators of turtle nests, and after much discussion, a great deal of research, and some serious soul searching, we made the decision to collect the eggs and raise them inside.

Excavating the eggs was a delicate, stressful operation. But after several minutes of painstakingly careful excavation (using a series of small brushes) seven gleaming white eggs were revealed.

We took exceptional care in handling this precious cargo, and placed them in a container under several inches of the same soil they were removed from. 

And then, we waited.  

And waited...

And waited...

And waited...

Wondering, hoping, yes, even praying that we'd done the right thing and that our adopted foster turtles would emerge, unharmed and healthy. As we approached the documented incubation period, we began checking on them obsessively, day and night. And finally, in the wee hours of Saturday morning, September 10th, after a long and worrisome 66 day wait, there came a barely detectable scratching. Tiny grains of dirt began shifting on the surface, and...
Our first baby turtle made its way into the world. 
And into our hearts. 

Impossible tiny, extraordinarily cute, exquisitely perfect. 

It won't come as a surprise to anyone who knows me but the tears came.
It just felt like such a gift, like a miracle, to hold this new new life in my hand. 

After some time to adjust to life above ground, we released this tiny miracle 
on the edge of our pond in an area with shallow water, 
plenty of cover, and a good bit of exposed bank.

I was overcome by how very small and vulnerable it seemed, and had to fight hard against the urge to snatch it right back up and raise it indoors where we could protect it from harm. I wondered how any of them survive in a world where nearly everything seems willing and able to eat them. 


But survive they do. Their population is stable and healthy across its range, and they're one of the most abundant turtle species in Ohio. 

We're still waiting on the others to emerge, and we'll keep you posted on the progress. In the meantime, please say a little pray to the turtle gods that our first little hatchling lives long and prospers. 



7 comments:

  1. I love this post and pictures ! Congratulations ! <3

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    1. Thanks so much! It was truly a remarkable experience.

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  2. I love when I see the Moms in the spring laying their eggs. I rarely see the babies, but it seems they actually take a year! When I do see them, it's a year later. I think the incubation varies with the conditions. Twice we were gifted with the sighting of a Snapper laying eggs in a neighbor's lawn. Never saw those emerge. We had a compost heap at that time, and when turning it unearthed a large number of "ping-pong balls" from a snapper. We were heartbroken, and never turned the heap again.

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    1. We were fortunate enough to watch this female laying the eggs, and the first one hatched on the 66th day. We're very curious and oh, so eager to see what will happen with the rest of the brood.

      So sorry about your compost pile mishap. I've had friends who found eggs in their compost pile too, and had a similar sad experience. But, who would have thought a compost pile would be good habitat for nesting turtles!

      Thanks for reading and sharing your story.

      Best,

      Kimmer

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  3. How wonderful ;) Thank you for sharing!!!

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    1. It really was a wonderful experience, Val. Thanks for reading and for taking time to comment!

      Best,

      Kimmer

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  4. Spectacular!! Thank you for sharing this beautiful & remarkable story! God Bless you!!!

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