Nature Notes – Turtle egg laying time

By Jim Gilbert

Female turtles continue leaving wetlands, streams and lakes, and slowly crossing roads in search of higher nesting grounds. Be on the lookout for these creatures so they can safely cross.
The females are gravid (swollen with eggs) and seek a proper place on dry land to dig a hole in which to lay their eggs. A location chosen is usually in the open because warmth from the Sun is important for the development of the young in their eggs.
The choice of place is made with care so turtles will travel fairly long distances from water to find a suitable spot. The female turtle uses her hind feet to dig out a hole as deep as her feet can reach. After the eggs are laid, she covers them with soil. Some turtles go to great pains to make the finished nest look at natural as possible so that it will not attract the attention of raccoons and other predators. When the job is done the turtle departs. She plays no further role in the future life of the eggs or the baby turtles when they hatch.
The two most common turtle species in Minnesota, the snapping turtle and the painted turtle, lay 20 to 40 eggs or 4 to 10 eggs, respectively, at a rate of about two per minute.
The warmth turtle eggs receive comes from the surrounding earth, heated by sunlight and the local weather, so the time it will take them to hatch is quite varied. Usually as many as two to three months or more pass before they hatch. The hatchling turtles then are on their own to find a wetland and fend for themselves.

What’s happening outdoors now?
Birds begin singing at 4:20 a.m.; American robins first. Eastern cottonwoods are “spitting” much cotton. The official state flower of Minnesota, the showy pink and white lady’s-slipper, is now blooming. A good place to see this largest and most impressive native orchid in our state is at the U of Minnesota Landscape Arboretum in the Grace B. Dayton Wildflower Garden. It blooms at the same time as Russian olive trees and double peonies. The Sun is high in the sky and lakes have now warmed to 70 degrees F, or a bit more, and are suitable for swimming.

On June 27 a year ago
Under sunny skies, we had a low temperature of 69 degrees and a high of 93 degrees.  Meteor cherries and both Sungold and Moongold apricots were ripe. Garden raspberries and wild blackcap raspberries could be picked and enjoyed. Garden and shrub roses bloomed nicely. North Blue and North Country, two of the blueberry shrubs developed by the U of MN, had tasty fruit that was ripe and ripening.  Much of the Carver County field corn was up 5 feet. Surface temperatures of Lake Waconia and other area lakes were in the mid-70s and perfect for swimming.

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