Turtles are reptiles, just like snakes and lizards. But what sets them apart is that they are the most ancient as well as semi-aquatic. You may know that turtles live most of the time in water, but they lay their eggs in the nests they dig on land, on sandy beaches.
However, it is difficult to find the nest. This is because these creatures secure them deep in the sand and hide their location by covering their nests with soil.
Here’s more to know about the turtle nesting process.
Where Can You Find Nested Sites?
Turtles nest in the sand, while freshwater turtles make their nests on the ground or along the banks of rivers, ponds, or swamps. On the other hand, turtle hatcheries require their owners to provide safe nesting sites and soft ground for females to lay their eggs. You can create a site inside an existing outdoor pen.
Interestingly, nesting female turtles can travel up to two miles to find their preferred nesting site. These females usually have a special nesting place that they return to each time they prepare to nest. Turtles also nest at night making it difficult for predators to find these places.
Female turtles can dig several holes only to leave them. However, it can continue digging new holes using its four flippers for several nights until it finds a hole with the right conditions for laying eggs.
While most of the “true” conditions are still unknown, the site should be dark and quiet.
What Are Turtle Nests Like in the Wild?
The nesting holes are usually pumpkin-shaped and large enough for turtles to lay their eggs and bury their eggs.
The depth of the nest varies according to the species and size of the turtle. Also, it depends on how far the female can reach with her flippers.
After the mother turtle finishes laying eggs, it covers the hole with soil to hide its location from predators using its front flippers. He then spends the night under cover near the site or may decide to return “home” to the sea.
Females pay no attention to the nesting location once they lay their eggs, and the nesting process is complete. Instead, the eggs and hatchlings struggle and find the sea for themselves.
How Many Turtle Eggs Lay?
The clutch, or number of eggs in the nest, varies by species. Plus, these reptiles may lay more than one egg during the nesting season, so it’s difficult to pinpoint the exact number of eggs laid.
However, turtles lay an average of 110 eggs in one nest. They also make between two and eight nests in a season.
Flatback turtles lay the smallest eggs, only up to 50 eggs per clutch. On the other hand, the Hawkbill species lays the largest clutch, more than 200 eggs in the nest.
Turtle eggs incubate for approximately 2-3 months until they hatch.
- Also read: Can Pet Turtles Live with Fish? Here’s What You Need To Know
What Do Turtle Eggs Look Like?
Turtle eggs are usually small, resembling a golf ball in size and shape but with a soft shell. They are also round, although they can be misshaped (elongated or held together with calcium strands).
Can I Move Turtle Eggs?
Turtles lay eggs in “unnatural” places too, sometimes. You can even find them in front of your house, especially if you live by the beach.
One important thing you should know about turtle eggs is that they have a high natural mortality rate. Adult turtles also have a very high mortality rate as long as they do not interfere with human activities.
Egg mortality is only a concern when human activities, roads, and construction disrupt nests or cause high adult turtle mortality rates. However, it is still important to ensure that the turtle eggs stay alive until they hatch, even if they do well on their own.
However, that doesn’t mean you have to handle it or move it to a safe place! This is because the eggs may fail to develop if you don’t orient them properly after you move them.
After the turtle lays eggs, the egg embryo attaches to the shell wall. So, any disturbance, rotation, or fiddling can cause movement and damage the developing embryo. This increases the chances of embryonic death.
It would be better to save the adult turtle from harm before you think about the eggs. Whatever the situation or what the habitat is like, avoid moving turtles and laying eggs. And if you have to move the turtle, move it in the direction it is facing.
Do Tortoises Lay Eggs Underwater?
Turtles must lay their eggs on sandy beaches to increase survival and hatching rates. The embryos in the egg breathe air through the inner membrane of the egg as they develop, so they will not survive if water covers the egg.
These reptiles only lay their eggs in the sea when the nest is disturbed, although this is very unusual. They only do it if they can’t carry any more eggs. Otherwise, they will survive and try to nest elsewhere the same night or another day if their nest is threatened.
- Read Related: How Much Does Owning a Tortoise Cost (In 2021)?
How do baby turtles emerge from their nests?
The egg chambers are usually deep in the ground, making it impossible for the hatchlings to escape from the inside alone. After a successful incubation period, the hatchlings break free from their shells, stimulating the others to emerge from the eggs as well.
Once each hatchling is outside of its shell, they climb up the eggshell to help push up the egg chamber. Then the baby turtles at the top of the egg chamber help scratch the sand to make way.
Turtle hatchlings usually appear en masse at once to increase the chances of escaping to the ground. They also do so to increase survival rates as many baby turtles can outmaneuver potential predators.
After successfully hatching, they found the sea and moved to their new home.
Unfortunately, most baby turtles do not survive in the wild. This is the same case with captive turtles, even if you give them the best care.
- You may want to read next: 17 Turtles Found in Illinois
Featured Image Credit: Piqsels