Box Turtle Egg Laying Time

Last night, Jim and I went for a leisurely stroll around the field before sunset. We had planted some pine seedlings back in the spring and decided to check and see how they were doing.

Jim knows I especially like turtles and he said, “Look! I found one of your buddies.” I went over and picked it up, like I always do, to check its sex (males have red eyes and a concave depression on their underside to make it easier to mount the female) and admire its shell colorations (which are unique to every turtle) and there was a hole underneath it! It had already been excavated and they were just sitting on top of it.

Box Turtle Hole for Laying Eggs Box Turtle Habitat for Box Turtle Holes for Laying Eggs Box Turtle Hole for Laying Eggs Box Turtle Hole for Laying Eggs Box Turtle Hole for Laying Eggs

I did not have my camera with me — it was getting too dark for photos, so we decided to look around some more and we found a second one doing the same thing!  All tolled, we found 3 holes last night (and I found a fourth this morning).

I had observed a different kind of turtle actually in the process of building a nest to lay eggs a few years (see photos here).  Interestingly, it also was around the 4th of July.  They use their hind leg to excavate the earth.  We had quite a bit of rain earlier yesterday so I am sure it helped make the ground easier to dig.

I got up early this morning and went out to take these photos (all except the actual photo of a box turtle, which I took on another occasion and included here for those of you not that familiar with turtles).  I had a glimmer of hope that I might still see the turtles there (no, they were gone).  These photos show four separate turtle holes.  These all were angled (i.e. not straight down) and when I stuck my finger in them, they were all “plugged up” with dirt.  The photo of the field shows the habitat where these photos were taken.

Doing a little bit of research, the incubation period for turtles is not an exact science.  It could be 9-10 weeks or 3 months or all winter (if they overwinter in the nest). Length of time varies depending upon when they actually lay the eggs (summer vs fall), the average nest temperature and relative humidity.  Depending on the temperatures, the turtles can be all males or all females.

This site shows some fascinating photos of egg sacks on baby turtles that have already hatched.

I was out jogging a couple days ago and saw an adult turtle crossing the road and a baby turtle that was crushed by a car (different spots).  The last time I saw a baby turtle was perhaps 35 years ago — so it is not a frequent siting, for me at least.  What a treat.

Life is an Adventure!