(by Jane Kolias)
Early to mid-summer is when many of NH’s female turtles leave their watery homes to find suitable habitat to lay their eggs. Loose or sandy soils are preferred, requiring some turtles to travel long distances in search of the best location. The journey can be perilous – roads or highways may stand between a turtle’s home and a nesting site, creating potentially deadly obstacles for wandering turtles. Once a location is chosen, the female will dig a shallow bowl-shaped depression with her hind feet, deposit her eggs (anywhere from 1 to 50 depending on the species), then cover the hole with soil, leaving little indication of its presence. Having no more responsibility in caring for her eggs, she returns to her home pond or stream.
The eggs will hatch in late summer though in some species, like the Painted Turtle, eggs may over winter and hatch in the spring. The hatchlings, about the size of a quarter, instinctively head straight for the nearest water body. Turtles in NH can live for 20 to 50 years in the wild.
Photos (from the top): Snapping Turtle laying her eggs in sandy soil, by the Forest Society; hatchling Snapping Turtle, by Jessica Marony.