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Toad Hall is situated on a hill overlooking the beautiful Swartekill, or Black Creek, Swamp. Usually around Memorial Day, we have an influx of snapping turtles, and occasionally other types of turtles like painted turtles, coming up out of the swamp to lay their eggs in our warm flower beds and compost piles. Turtles, being reptiles, lay eggs that must be kept warm to incubate and hatch. My fluffy, sunny flower beds are apparently irresistible.
Yesterday, we saw several turtles in the yard. One mama got out on top of an old stone barn foundation, about ten feet high, and then fell. Fortunately she is a sturdy reptile and she landed in a flower bed, so she was fine. Here is a picture of her at the bottom of the wall. Her shell was probably about 15-18 inches or so:
Here is a closeup of her diggers — careful!:
One year, one of the turtles decided to take the shortest path from my compost pile back to the swamp. My garden lay en route, but she thought that she could scale my six-foot deer netting fence. I used some bamboo poles to get her off before she took the whole wall down with her, and then we stopped traffic to let her cross the road. She was a big one, with a more than two foot long shell.
We rarely see the baby turtles, so we’re not sure how successful the laying rate is here, but when we do see them they are teeny tiny, not much more than the size of a quarter. I once leaned over to pick up what I thought was a black plastic top and it was a baby painted turtle. This picture is from a couple of years ago, on a day when our young hens laid their first egg and I found a baby snapper: