Be Careful Connecticut, It’s Baby Snapping Turtle Season
It's time to watch where you step Connecticut, some very vulnerable babies are just entering our crazy world.
They need all the help they can get to survive, the odds are stacked against them. I'm talking about baby snapping turtles. September is the time of year in Connecticut that common snapping turtle hatchlings emerge from their nest and begin their lives.
My brother and his wife live in Middlebury and they had a really big female turtle lay her eggs at the top of their driveway in June. I took a couple of photos while she laid her eggs in a hole that she had dug out, I was careful not to get too close.
According to the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (CT DEEP), the common snapping turtle can reach anywhere from 10 to 15 inches, even 20 sometimes. They can weigh anywhere from 10 to 35 pounds. They're the largest freshwater species of turtle here in Connecticut.
Common snapping turtles can live in all kinds of freshwater areas and prefer areas with slow-moving water and mud. Female snapping turtles can travel great distances in June and July to find the perfect spot to lay 25-80 eggs. The eggs hatch during September, which is why you're seeing all those baby turtles now. The baby turtles dig to the surface, and then they begin their quest to find water.
This is the most perilous time in their lives, not only do they have to dodge human feet, cars, bicycles, and pets, they escape the hungry eyes of snakes, birds, fish, raccoons, and other small predators.
When the baby turtle procession starts at our place in Waterbury, we try to scoot the baby turtles towards the small marsh that is in the back of our apartment. We live near Tracy's Pond on the Middlebury/Waterbury town line. If you see a baby snapping turtle on a road or pavement and it's moving along, don't mess with it. If you see it's in distress, or maybe headed towards a road or a nest of garter snakes, the babies are only about an inch long, carefully scoop them up and get them into a safer location and let them go.
A warning - Adult snappers should never be handled. When I was a kid, I saw a big snapper on the side of Oronoke Road by the Country Club in Waterbury. it was trying to climb the Country Club's fence, so being the hero that I was at the time, fresh off watching 30 episodes of the Crocodile Hunter, I stopped my car and tried to pick up the big snapper by its shell, between it's 4 legs.
My God, adult snappers have very long necks, and this angry fella almost took out a hunk of my hand. They have extremely powerful bites and they think you're trying to harm them, so stay away.
If you do save a baby snapping turtle from that awful cat, or the Audi screaming by, it may have a beautiful life thanks to you. Snapping turtles can live to be 40 or 50 years old, with some almost doubling that to reach 100.