Turtles love the spring as much as we do. If you thought our winter was bad, can you imagine spending it in the cold muck at the bottom of a pond?
On a recent visit to the Hop Brook Conservation area in Sudbury, Massachusetts the turtles were out en masse. “Sunshine on my shell” was the theme as every turtle in the pond (literally hundreds) seemed to be climbing out of the cold muck to take in the warm rays of sun. They were lined up on logs, stumps, tufts of grass and on each other. Space was at a premium.
As I headed home, I came across a strange looking, large rock on the side of the road. It took a moment for my brain to register that the rock was actually a large snapping turtle “in shell”. With the nearby brook a couple of hundred yards away, this snapper was putting the cold muck far behind. Parking the car further up on the road, I returned on foot. Probably en route to find a place to lay her eggs, she’d hunkered down with the sound of the passing car. Giving her wide berth, I sat up ahead on a grassy knoll. My patience paid off, and she eventually stepped out of her shell to resume her stroll to places unknown.
How to tell a snapping turtle’s age:
Did you know that a snapper whose shell is ~7 inches in diameter is about 10 years old? And a snapper with a shell 10-12 inches in diameter is around 25 years? Supposedly you can count rings on the shell to determine their age. Since this one was at least 14 inches in diameter, she had definitely been around a while. However, there was no way in heck I was going to get close enough to count anything on her shell.