Hello, fellow readers, Saving snapping turtles lifts spirits. While walking Jolee, I saw a baby snapping turtle on the side of the road and a momma snapper a week later. I hope you enjoy the story.
I walked a quarter of a mile with the quarter-sized baby snapper to a feeder stream, much less steep than over the bridge crossing Cobblewood Road. He tucked inside his shell in fear. Halfway, he grew impatient and struggled to escape my two-finger grip. “I’m trying to help you, little fellow. Be patient.”
I climbed over the ragweed and mugwort inundating our world, choking out the native asters, although I saw a few blooms peeking through. I released the baby turtle safely into a spot next to the water. A lesson in patience we all can learn from nature.
The Saga of Saving a Snapping Turtle
This week, Jolee and I encountered another snapping turtle, a very large one, crossing the road. Not the same fellow one pond down that I came upon last October we spoke about in Winter Season of Growth, when a kind man stopped and flipped the turtle back into the pond with a piece of wood. That was a magical moment.
I could not bear the platter-size turtle flattened on the road. Wearing a reflector vest when walking, as folks tend to speed on our country roads, I felt safe directing traffic. A few cars carefully drove by as the turtle slumbered along so slowly. So, so slowly
Then Diane McGreen stopped to help. Soon after, a CDL truck stopped. “Hi, Caesar,” Diane said. He delivers packages to her.
Caesar takes a snow removal brush to push the turtle to the pond side of the road; she begins to hiss and spit. Then, he flips the turtle carefully on its back. He runs to his truck to get a utility glove, puts it in the turtle’s mouth, and then carries her safely to the other side. What a hero.
“Somehow, I knew what to do,” he said, “thinking it’s the safest way of moving her to the other side.” Caesar is originally from Puerto Rico, but now he lives in Passaic and works in our area delivering packages.
He said, “I always try to save animals when I see them crossing the road.” Thank you, Caesar and Diane, for taking the time to help.
Snapping Turtles Unwarranted Reputation
Snapping turtles can live up to 40 years or more and rarely leave their ponds or bogs other than during the breeding season or to lay eggs. Sometimes, they move if overcrowded, or their habitat becomes polluted or destroyed.
Experts recommend not handling snapping turtles. Their name is justified as their bites can be fierce. Gratefully, Caesar’s strategy worked well.
Snapping turtles have a reputation for destroying gamefish and waterfowl. However, research finds it is very rare in natural settings.
It was fascinating to learn that once snapping turtles lay their eggs, they do not return to the nest, which is what I thought was going on—That the momma snapper was checking on the baby I found, one of the likely dozens hatched. But they don’t return to the area until the next time they lay eggs.
Turtles are Welcome Garden Guests
While snapping turtles won’t frequent your gardens, others, like box turtles, are welcome garden guests who control insect pests and slugs. To attract them, provide plenty of leaf litter for moist hiding spots. Keep your garden debris intact over winter to provide a habitat for nesting sites for next year’s babies.
Helping Mother Nature Lifts Spirits
We are here to serve each other, nature, and our land with gratitude for the gifts they give us. And you can’t rush things—everything in its due time. Though true, we hurried the turtle to save her from being squished on the road. I like to think it was part of the plan that we came upon the situation just in time to help. I bet you would have done the same.
There is more to the story in the Garden Dilemmas Podcast, including a reflection on when I saved a baby snapper soon after my brother Bill passed away and how it helped heal my heart. I hope you’ll tune in:
Related Stories and Helpful Links
More about Common Snapping Turtle (from the Connecticut Department of Energy & Environmental Protection)