We live in the country, so we see all kinds of wild animals out here. Mostly, they're the cute kind, sometimes not. An example of that would be the copperhead hubby killed in the garage last week. Not so cute.
Anyway, back on the afternoon of May 30th, I went onto the back porch with Molly. I hadn't even sat down when Molly (who started having a fit) and I heard something scratching at the storm door that goes into the garage. The weird thing was, it was scratching from inside the garage, like it was trying to get out. The bottom of the door is aluminum, the rest glass. The glass was raised for ventilation, but I wasn't about to go over there and stick my head inside to see what it was.
So I go back inside the house, through the laundry room, and peek out the door into the garage. The mystery scratcher was a huge snapping turtle. The moment I stepped into the garage, the thing turned to look at me. I slipped over to the wall where hubby keeps all the tools and grabbed a big flat-bottomed snow shovel. Okay, so I've got the tool for removal, now how to put it to use? I had a devil of a time getting behind the turtle because every time I moved, it turned toward me. Finally, I went for broke and shoved the shovel against the turtle's back side and started sliding it as fast as I could across the garage floor. I shoved it right out the big door and then pulled it down so Mr. Turtle couldn't come back inside. He didn't look too happy as the door was coming down.
A little later, hubby came home from work. I told him about the turtle and we went out to see if we could spot it in the yard. It was nowhere to be seen. I was surprised because the thing had to really put on the speed to get gone so fast. Then hubby noticed a furrow in the nice, thick mulch he'd just put down in the shrub beds. It looked like a miniature plane had crash landed in the mulch. He looked closer and saw that the turtle had buried itself in there. So he got the hoe and plopped Mr. Turtle out of there. Turtle was very unhappy about this treatment and latched onto the hoe handle. Then--like me--hubby used the snow shovel. Unlike me, he actually scooped up the turtle and carried it down to the edge of the yard and released it into the woods.
Now you would think that's the end of the story, but it's not. The next morning--May 31st (I remember the date because it was hubby's birthday)--hubby was on the back porch having his morning coffee when he yelled for me to come out and look at something. The turtle was back. It was down in the yard acting really strange. It was stretching up on its legs as far as they would go, then dropping down to the ground. It did this several times before hubby and I decided a closer investigation was in order. We walked over to see what it was up to, which apparently upset it, because it decided to leave. As it turns out, Mr. Turtle was a Mrs. She'd dug a hole and was in the process of depositing her eggs. So we had a nice, neat hole full of turtle eggs, but she left without covering them. Hubby gently put the loose dirt over the eggs and we placed a patch of moss over the disturbed ground to disguise it from predators. Every day after that, we went out to look at the nest to make sure it hadn't been disturbed.
For the past week, we started to think the eggs wouldn't hatch. We knew they took anywhere between 60 and 120 days, depending on the temperature. (we looked it up online) With the heat wave we've been having, we figured it would only take the minimum amount of time. Then, today, the baby turtles came out of their shells and left the nest. I hope at least some of them survived the trip to the pond across the road. Happy birthday, baby turtles!