On June 19, 2010, I found an open hole in the ground where a Snapping Turtle had laid eggs the night before at Springbrook Nature Center. Rain had washed away the soil covering the hole, and predators would have found the eggs as easily as I had. A living exhibit waiting to happen.
The 38 eggs were about 8 inches below the top of the sandy soil on a nature center maintenance road. I dug a hole next to the eggs to expose them.
Once the embryo has attached itself inside the egg, if the egg is turned over the embryo will die. So I marked the top of each egg with a pencil dot to assure it would be left in the proper position, and placed the eggs in a plastic container in vermiculite. I placed water in the bottom of the container, and left a lid partially covering it on a table where no sun could be directly on the eggs.
On September 5, 80 days after the eggs were deposited in the road bed, they started to hatch. Within three days all the eggs hatched, and the babies were released into the pond near where they were found.
If you look closely you can see the sharply pointed white egg tooth just below the nose of the baby turtle. It uses this to cut the egg open from the inside. After a couple of days the egg tooth dissappears.
The eggs are slightly smaller than a ping pong ball. The baby's body is about an inch across, not counting the head and tail.
The baby turtles have a yolk sac on their underside that gives them nourishment for a few days after they hatch. It is absorbed within a week.