Black Bear Resort Residents Enjoy Snapping Turtle Birth
It takes a resort to hatch snapping turtles! That is what several residents of Canaan Valley’s Black Bear Resort learned over the summer and early fall. In mid- June homeowners Elaine Moore and Deborah McHenry delighted in the early morning visits to their gravel drive-way by a large female snapping turtle. She dug large holes at the edge of the sunny side of the drive-way. She would then cover them with gravel. The process took a good hour. When she completed her task off she would lumber to a bog area.
After conducting a little research, Moore and McHenry determined that these efforts were false nests. The large turtle had not actually laid any eggs. On their morning walks with their dog Bella, the two observed nests where eggs were laid. Unfortunately, these nests had been raided by raccoons or skunks who are natural
predators of the laid eggs and small turtles once they are hatched. All that was left of the nests were pearly colored bits of papery shell.
In late June Moore was profoundly lucky to see the turtle dig an enormous hole and lay a large number of eggs. When she was done, she covered the nest with the gravel such that it looked like two small mounds. Off she went. She was not seen the rest of the summer.
Determined not to let predators eat the eggs, Moore and McHenry covered the nest with poultry wire staked into the ground. As the summer went on with quite a bit of rain it looked as though the gravel was setting up like concrete. Moore went to work to adjust the nest. Her friend Bruce Wilson provided sand for the “remodeling” effort! Moore carefully removed the rock and gravel. It was a slow and tedious process. Once the gravel was removed, Moore carefully removed the eggs, being sure not to adle them. She lined the bottom of the nest with the sand. She then carefully replaced the eggs and and covered them with the sand and some small amount of gravel. She
The waiting began. Would any turtles hatch? Research was to the effect that hatching would begin in 60 to 90 days. Weeks went by. The top of the sand developed agreenish tint. Probably not a good sign. Finally, around the 90 day period when hope of hatching had dwindled, Black Bear resort employee and friend of McHenry and Moore, Barbra Dearborn was working mowing grass when a slight movement from the location of the nest caught her eye.
Upon checking it out, she was thrilled to observe five snapping turtles had hatched. Dearborn served as a turtle midwife for the next week.
Snapping turtles that do hatch face a challenge getting to water without being snatched up by predators. But, these babies had no such problems. Dearborn assisted all the turtles getting to the bog area. Over the course of a week, Dearborn saw 40 turtles hatch and successfully make their way to the water!! Dearborn’s grandson, Coy, was able to see several of the turtles hatch. He named one of the turtles Bob! All are delighted that Bob and the others who hatched are in a nice boggy home. As adults the snapping turtles have no real predators. They can live some 40 years or more.