Baby Turtle Time

We’ve been having hatch parties in our incubators!

snapping turtles hatching

Snapping turtles emerging from their eggs

During the month of August, almost 50 turtles hatched from eggs that had been incubated. Some of those eggs were recovered from nests in construction sites. The rest were laid by gravid turtles who came into our wildlife rehabilition center after being injured by cars. Those injured mother turtles were chemically induced to lay their eggs so they would no longer struggle to escape to finish their egg-laying mission and could relax and heal.

painted turtle hatchling held in hand

A newly hatched painted turtle

We successfully hatched one clutch of midland painted turtle eggs and five clutches of common snapping turtle eggs, with one late clutch still incubating. The earlier hatching snapping turtles will be released soon. The remainder of the hatchlings will spend the winter in our headstart program and will be released in the late spring. Those headstarted turtles will be bigger than their wild hatched counterparts, who often go directly into hibernation after they hatch, which will improve their chances of survival. All of our hatchlings are released near where the eggs or their mothers were found. We hope these small turtles will help those turtle populations to continue to thrive.

painted turtle hatchling in water under leaves

Our nursery tanks include lots of places for tiny hatchlings to hide

Each clutch of turtles requires a tank with a gravel substrate arranged to vary the water depth in different parts of the tank, as well as greenery to hide under and places to bask. Each tank is equipped with a gentle water filter, a heat lamp, and a UVB lamp. The hatchlings are fed a combination of live food such as small mealworms or earthworms, pieces of fish, and commercial turtle food designed for healthy growth. As they age, we may divide clutches into separate containers to reduce competition until we can transfer them into larger enclosures outside. After a few weeks in spring spent adjusting to sunlight and changing weather conditions, our hatchlings will be ready to take their place in the wild.

Check back for updates this winter to see how these babies are growing.