The Snappers are Laying!

Old abandoned railroad beds are a centerpiece of our outdoor recreation resources. “Rails-to-trails” projects provide wonderful opportunities for hiking, dog-walking, nature photography, cross-country skiing and other outdoor activities. These long green corridors also connect villages and spur cooperative, community-based conservation efforts.

This morning I had a call from the walker shown below to let me know that there were Snapping Turtles all over the place, digging nests and laying eggs. It was warm, overcast and rainy, a perfect day for turtle activity. In fact, I stopped along the way to remove a Painted Turtle from the middle of the road, reminding me of my post from 2013 entitled “Slow Down for Turtles”!


Abandoned railroad bed converted into a popular walking trail

Abandoned railroad beds attract turtles in late spring because they are often in close proximity to wetlands and provide ideal sites for egg-laying: high, dry and sunny, with coarse-textured substrate.


Snapping Turtle on its nest, laying eggs

These egg-laying snappers, working along the edge of the railroad bed just a couple of feet from the main pathway, are totally committed to the task at hand. They’re more or less oblivious to mild disturbances, tolerating walkers (some with leashed dogs) and curious onlookers (like me) just a few feet away. They don’t leave until the seeds for another generation of Snapping Turtles are secure!


Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.


2 thoughts on “The Snappers are Laying!

  1. I never thought about where they laid eggs. I avoid them because they do not have a nice disposition, but I do love the box and painted turtles. I will have to look for the snappers on my walks now that I know where to spot them. I like the project of the trails along the abandoned tracks. It is great for connecting communities.

  2. Great post Nick! We have loggerheads here on Kiawah and it’s quite an event when they come ashore to lay their eggs. We have a pre-dawn turtle patrol that checks each nest keeping an eye out for coyotes and foxes. Have you been to the High Line in NYC? A converted rail line that is amazingly beautiful. They’ve done a fabulous job creating a nirvana from former elevated railway tracks in the middle of the world’s busiest city!

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