Nova Scotia

51 baby snapping turtles saved by local wildlife group

A local wildlife rescue organization has saved 51 baby snapping turtles, releasing most of them into the Musquodoboit River.

Most have been released into the Musquodoboit River

Hope for Wildlife released four dozen baby snapping turtles into the Musquodoboit River this week. (Courtesy Hope for Wildlife)

A local wildlife rescue organization has saved 51 baby snapping turtles, releasing most of them into the Musquodoboit River. 

Hope for Wildlife says it was called three months ago after a large female snapping turtle was seen laying eggs next to first base of the Musquodoboit Harbour baseball diamond.

"Unfortunately, that wasn't a very good spot for mom to pick," says Hope Swinimer, Hope for Wildlife's founder. 

One of the centre's volunteers was tasked with relocating the delicate eggs. If an egg is turned or rotated, the turtle will die, Swinimer says, so the volunteer marked Xs on top to make sure they stayed oriented.

"He did it very, very carefully, egg by egg," Swinimer says. "He was even worried about the bumpiness in the road on the way back."

The eggs were buried in the proper soil and were incubated, she says. It wasn't until 91 days later that they hatched.

"In all honesty, we were getting pretty discouraged because the books say they hatch in 70 to 90 days," Swinimer says. 

Swinimer recalls that just a week before the eggs hatched, she recognized the container housing them was up quite high: "And I thought, 'Oh gosh, if they do hatch, those babies are going to fall to their death.'"

Swinimer moved the container closer to the floor — and just in time. "It's a good thing I did because when they came crawling out they would have had quite the tumble." 

The next day volunteers released 48 turtles. Another three will spend the winter at the organization's centre and will be set free in the spring.

"They head straight out into the water, the body of water they will always return to," Swinimer says.