Turtle Nests

snapping turtle laying eggs into dug nest
Alyssa Lu/USFWS

Watch your step! Chances are you are walking near a turtle nest, or at least the remnants of one. Snapping turtles and painted turtles all love this sandy part of the trail for digging their nests. Snapping turtles will lay about 20-50 eggs that are roughly the shape and size of ping pong balls. Painted turtles lay 5 to 20 eggs that are smaller and more oval in appearance and resemble a jumbo jelly bean. Temperature plays a key role in the sex of the baby turtles; a higher temperature yields more females while a lower temperature means more males. Despite all these nests, most eggs will become victim to depredation. Many scavengers depend on these eggs for survival, but the lucky few who survive incubation get the chance to become parents themselves. Eggs generally hatch after three to four months. Some young turtles will exit the nest in the fall while others will remain in the nest until the spring.