PENNSYLVANIA (WHTM) — Herpetologist Jesse Rothacker from Forgotten Friend Reptile Sanctuary wanted to show people what to do when they come across nesting snapping turtles, and he ended up filming more than he intended, recording a snapping turtle along the Susquehanna River as she laid dozens of eggs right in front of him.
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Nesting turtles are not a threat to you or your pets, Rothacker says, so you should leave them alone if you spot them. The nesting turtles aren’t on land for long. Rothacker recommends simply keeping your pets on a leash around the turtles, which will usually leave within a few hours.
The turtles dig a nest immediately before laying their eggs — snapping turtles typically lay 20-40 eggs, Rothacker says — and then they cover up the nest to protect the eggs before disappearing. Most of the eggs won’t survive.
“Those eggs are going to feed all kinds of birds and mammals and other reptiles, potentially fish,” Rothacker said. “They all benefit when turtles have the ability to lay their eggs.”
Reptile nests and eggs are protected in Pennsylvania. The babies will hatch after a couple months of incubation, Rothacker says, and then they will leave the nest and head off into the wild on their own.
Watch Rothacker’s whole video of the snapping turtle laying her eggs here.