When my husband appears at our kitchen door, it usually means something is 'up'. Sure enough, last Sunday afternoon, when he came to that door which he seldom uses, he had something in his hand. This is what he had-- minus the quarter, which I added to the photo for scale!
He and his brother had been digging potatoes and noticed some egg shells. Then, looking more closely, they noticed tiny turtles!
As you may know, we live across the road from a large beaver swamp. In May or June, it's pretty common for us to see painted turtles coming out of the water to lay eggs. (You can read about it in this post). We have seen turtle hatchlings before, but never this late in the year. Normally, when we see them on land, we put them in the water in the swamp. But this late in the season, I wasn't really sure what would be the best thing to do for them.
So, while I researched it a bit, I put them in a small basin, with a little water in one end and a dry area on the other. They didn't move around too much, but they did seem to like the water side best.
The reason they only moved around a little, probably, was because they were dormant before they got dug up with the potatoes.
Boy, what cuties though!
So tiny and perfect. I really wanted to 'mother' them, and take care of them, but...
I decided, after getting some helpful advice, that the best thing for them would be the most natural thing -- to put them back outside.
I didn't want to replant them in the garden, because then; come spring, they would have to cross the road. Besides the road crossing, it is a long distance to the water from there.
I did get some nice, loose soil from my brother-in-law's garden though. And I gathered up some other equipment.
I found a good spot for them closer to the swamp. Before I said 'good-bye', I took some portraits:
You can see a little bit of this one's 'painting' on the plastron in that shot, now here it is up-side-down...
You can see that it still has some of its yolk sak, which will continue to supply nutrients til it's gone.
This one was more 'out-going'...
but still kind of 'sleepy'. Here is its underside.
Good thing they were not too active, because it's time for them to go back underground.
That's all loose garden soil under them, and then I gently covered them with more.
Over that I placed a cage made out of a piece of wire fencing. It has openings big enough for them to crawl out of, but hopefully not big enough for a predator to get thru.
With my hammer, I pounded in some old tent stakes to secure it on the ends, and covered it with a few leaves to help make the spot blend in with the surroundings.
Then I said a little blessing over them, asking God to protect them and help them survive the long, cold winter. Our swamp seems to be a good home for painted turtles (click here to read about the day I counted them), so hopefully these will be able to join the rest.