Not the Mutant Ninja variety, but an actual turtle graced our home with her presence recently.
One morning the kids ran outside to play and not 2 seconds later they come storming back in, “Mom, Mom, MOM!” Why do kids not wait for a reply? My kids don’t even give me a chance to reply before the “mom” is screamed in their loudest, shrillest voice possible.
“There’s a turtle outside!”
Okay, I thought. There’s probably a cute little turtle out on the street. We’ll go check it out.
Boy, was I wrong.
Isn’t she gorgeous? Her shell was bigger than a basketball, I’d say. She was in our flower bed, right next to the front door. (Ignore the weeds and the fact that we desperately need new pine straw put down. Focus on the turtle, people.)
The flower bed is on a STEEP hill and it looked like she was stuck. Picture a car spinning its back wheels in the mud…that’s what she looked like, but in slow turtle motion. One of the reasons we thought she was stuck, was that we were standing two feet away from her and she wasn’t running away from us. Wild animals aren’t supposed to like being around people!
After about 15 minutes of us oohing and aahing, I got a shovel and gave her a little nudge out of her hole. She scampered off into the bushes and we left her alone. Probably two minutes later the kids saw her all the way down the hill and across the street. There’s a tiny creek behind our neighbor’s house and we figured she was headed there.
Fast forward two days later and we are pulling out of the garage to go berry picking and we see the turtle in the flower bed by our garage door.
Stop the car! Turtle, turtle!!
Holy. Smokes. There was the turtle and what was that white thing? Holy double smokes. She’s laying eggs!
Of course, we got out of the car and shamelessly stared. (And no, my son doesn’t like to wear his shoes in the car. Or out of it. He did have shoes to wear though.)
Normally, I wouldn’t let the kids get so close to wild animals, but I figured my kids could run faster than a turtle. Plus, I explained that we never ever touch wild turtles because they can carry salmonella. I think it might just be the baby turtles that can carry the disease, but I’m pretty sure the mom handbook states in section 2.4 that we do not need to touch any turtles. Ever.
Can you see the two white eggs? We saw them actually COME OUT of her. It was crazy and amazing. No other way to describe it. She seemed very zen about the whole thing too. As I remember labor, there was nothing zen about it, so huge props to Turtle Mama.
Finally, we decided to stop our shameless gawking. Give the lady some privacy! Although, I suppose, she could have picked a more private spot. But, man oh man, she must have really wanted to lay eggs in my flower beds. We probably disturbed her plan the first time, but she came back. So sorry Turtle Mama!
When we returned from berry picking, she was gone and so was the evidence that she had been there.
Can you see where it was? She did a pretty good job of covering it up. I wouldn’t have known if I hadn’t seen where she was.
We think the turtle is an Eastern river cooter. Turtles can lay 12 – 24 eggs in one or more nests. The eggs may or may not be fertilized. If they are, we think they would hatch the end of September. We’ll keep you posted!
I was so happy to see nature at work…in my yard! What a learning experience for all of us.