Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Snapping Turtle Time

Our first mid June on our new property, I glanced outside at my koi pond and noticed something moving on top of the deer netting I had installed to protect the fish from herons. Panic struck when I realized it was a huge snapping turtle.

The turtle was rearing its beak and slashing at the fish, which were idly swimming up thinking they were being fed. I ran outside yelling to Sean, "“Get a garbage can there'’s a snapping turtle on the fish pond!"

It was huge. The carapace was a foot and a half long and the animal was over a yard long. It was in the middle of the pond, stuck in the netting. I pulled the netting in towards the side and the turtle along with it. I grabbed the turtle by the tail as its powerful back claws scraped against my hand and it tried to free itself. But, I held on. I untangled it from the net with my other hand and Sean's help. It was heavy. Quickly it went into the garbage can head first as it gaped threateningly and it just fit into the bottom when fully retracted into its shell. We stared at it a good long while and discussed what to do with it. We had both seen one the size of a garbage can lid before while canoing in a stream in the Finger Lakes region of New York State.

Bigger than this one...

We decided to set it free in the cove down the hill from us since that is probably where it came from. So, we put the can in the Jeep, drove down the hill, sang Born Free, and let her go on her way from the boat ramp. She swam off slowly. End of story, or so we thought.

But smaller than this one.

A few weeks later, her eggs hatched. Many baby snapping turtles appeared from the sand around the pond. I guess she had been laying eggs there for years. Many of the babies headed for the pond and I worried for the fish. You really don'’t want a snapping turtle in your fish pond because they will eat all of the fish. But I should have feared for the baby turtles. The bigger fish were playing with them. Some of my fish are a good 2 feet long and can ingest a whole baby turtle, but they will not swallow them, just spit them out. Eventually the baby turtle will drown and some did.

They are cute when they are small.

So, we had to rescue the baby turtles. I got a big plastic container and filled it with the little devils and took them down to where we had released their mum earlier, sang another chorus of Born Free and off they went.

She returned every year after that to lay eggs and every year I begged Sean to release her in a different cove. But he did not want to upset the balance of nature so year after year we did the same thing; big turtle rescue, little turtle rescue.

Our shepherd mix dog would bark at her upon her arrival. At first I thought, why is my dog barking at a rock? Wait, that's no rock! Good girl Jenny!

Then one year, Sean was out of town the day the snapping turtle mom arrived. The dog alerted me that she was in the yard and I went out and captured her, tossed her in my Jeep and drove her straight away to a cove on the other side of the hill. That confused the hell out of her. I said a final farewell as I released her. We have not seen her since. I wonder how she'’s doing.


Ryan said...

now thats a turtle! i would wonder if u moving it 2 the other side mess it up that bad it didnt come back 2 your pond? i just hope its still having babies. little turtles r so cute.

look sue on a personal note i know all that took place is not sitting well with u and i can understand why. just know this i have been blogging now 4 two years. i think in them 2 years if i was a fraud i would have stumbled by now on my posts dont u think?

i have had some of my readers 4 the whole 2 years. dont u think they would have questioned me by now? only 1's that do r new people that comment not sure why sometimes i think they are jealous coz our blog gets traffic.

i cant make u trust me just hope u do and that i wasnt the 1 that played. u im still here!

Sue said...

Yeah, I think moving it fixed the problem.

Its not sitting well. Buts lets just move forward for now. Thanks for your comment Ryan.