Snapping Turtles Mating by Dave Zavracky
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Being a cabin owner allows for some truly fascinating encounters with the outdoor world. The real and natural, yet seldom seen lives of well-known creatures offer us some truly unique discoveries and experiences. When you spend time in the natural environment, chances are, sooner or later, you’ll run into something that will demand your attention. It happened to me while out fishing on Longwood Lake one morning in mid-May. I came upon a rather unusual looking floating object. Upon closer inspection I noticed the shell of a snapping turtle. As I came right up upon it, I determined that it was two snapping turtles locked together. The two turtles drifted with the current down into lower Longwood lake.
Snapping turtles mate between April and November, influenced by the gradually warming water in the spring and become most active breeding during the warmer months. They begin courtship by facing one another and moving their heads from side to side. Mating begins, in the water, with the male mounting the female and adjusting his tail beneath the female’s to allow the cloacal openings to touch. The female can store the male’s semen within herself for months, delaying fertilization until the optimum time. Delayed fertilization helps snapping turtle populations spread. A female can travel overland to a new lake, pond, or marsh, before initiating fertilization in the new habitat. She excavates a cavity on dry land with her hind feet, buries up to 60 eggs and then leaves. The young turtles find their own way back to the water. Raccoons, foxes, coyotes, and minks raid the nests and prey on hatchlings. Once they reach the water, the young are vulnerable to fish, snakes and wading birds.