Image Credits: Virginia State Parks (Creative Commons license)
It’s not very often that nature itself visits your home. Yes, I am talking about turtles visiting and laying eggs in your yard. But, unfortunately, people are often left perplexed about what to do if a turtle lays eggs in their yard.
If you are unfamiliar with turtles, having them make a home in your yard can be daunting, especially if it is the snapping turtle, mainly known for its ferocious bite.
So, what should you do? In this episode of turtles, we will find out what you can do if a turtle lays eggs in your yard.
What To Do If A Turtle Lays Eggs In Your Yard?
You can do two things – either keep them safe and help them incubate or call animal control to remove them. The mother turtles will usually leave after laying eggs and burying the nest with soil.
As for eggs, most of them do not incubate because of several reasons. First, they will be dug up and eaten by small predators like raccoons and coyotes, who can easily smell turtle eggs from far.
If the eggs successfully hatch, the baby turtles will head for the nearest water source.
Now, let me explain in detail.
As I mentioned earlier, there are two things you can do if a turtle lays eggs in your yard. You can let them be on their own or call animal control. And I would recommend the first option.
A turtle will dig up yards in search of a suitable nesting place. In this process, they will not only make one nest but several.
If she does not find the ground underneath suitable, she will move on to the next plot and start digging.
So, there are chances that turtle nests in your yard might not have eggs inside them.
After the turtle lays her eggs, she will immediately leave or wait for another day to recuperate her energy. So you need not worry about these grown turtles making a home in your yard.
Turtles, like most reptiles, aren’t maternalistic. They will not nurture their younglings. Their house is in the water, and they will head back to where they came from.
What Happens To Eggs After The Turtle Leaves?
There’s a reason turtles lay hundreds of eggs at a time. It is because of the high mortality rate of their babies. The eggs in your yard, too, might never hatch. Predatory attacks, dud eggs, pesticides, etc., account for the mortality of these eggs.
But if they were safe from all these dangers, the eggs would hatch within three months. That isn’t too long to wait if you want to help the dwindling turtle population.
Here are several scenarios that can happen to turtle eggs in your yard:
Predators Eat These Eggs
Many predators, especially small mammals, relish turtle eggs. Coyotes, foxes, river otters, raccoons, and skunks are a few animals that can smell turtle eggs from far. They can quickly devour all the eggs and wreak havoc in your yard.
Most Eggs Are Infertile
Turtles are like hens, who can lay eggs even if they haven’t mated. So, the eggs in your yard will often be 90% infertile.
And even if a turtle lays fertile eggs in your yard, more than half of them will still be duds due to lack of nutrition.
These nutrition-deprived eggs will not form embryos and will simply be eggs with hollow shells.
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What Happens To The Hatched Turtle Eggs?
Only 5 to 10% of turtle eggs ever hatch, and even then, only 1% make it to adulthood. Newly hatched baby turtles will instinctively head for the nearest water body. It would be best if you didn’t handle them when they were making this journey.
How To Protect Turtle Eggs In Your Yard?
- Get a nest protector to protect the nest from predators
- Set up a brush pile
- Keep your other pets indoor
- Be mindful while mowing
- Don’t use pesticides
- Make proper drainage near the site
Get A Nest Protector To Protect The Nest From Predators
A nest protector is a cage that you can keep over the turtle’s nesting site. However, keeping it alone will not suffice. Some mammals are strong enough to carry these cages.
So, keep a heavy stone over the cage to hold them steady.
Set Up A Brush Pile
Build a brush pile near the nest to provide hiding places for both turtles and eggs. This way, once the eggs hatch, they will also have a place to hide from birds of prey if you want to keep these turtles as outdoor pets.
Keep Your Other Pets Indoor
Dogs and cats are inquisitive pets. They can get the whiff of turtle eggs in your yard. So, they will dig up the yard and eat the turtle eggs.
You need to keep them inside the house or put up a nest basket protector to avoid your pets digging these nests.
Be Mindful While Mowing
You need to be careful while mowing your lawn. Mowing near the site will clear off the brush piles that hide the nest from predators. Only mow the areas that are far from the nest.
Do Not Use Pesticides
Using pesticides can disrupt the incubation of the turtles’ eggs and result in infertile eggs. They also kill off other insects and invertebrates, which are food sources for baby turtles.
Once the baby turtles come out of these eggs, they will need protein from these insects. So, do not use pesticides when the turtle eggs are in the incubation period.
Make Proper Drainage Near The Site
Do not let water seep into the nest directly. This can damage the eggs inside the nest. Also, turtle eggs can only incubate in warm and dry places, so mothers search for dry spots far from water sources.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Why Do Turtles Make Multiple Holes In The Yard?
Turtles make multiple holes in search of suitable places to lay their eggs. They need a warm and dry place where their eggs can incubate under the right conditions.
There’s another reason for it as well. Not every hole is filled with their eggs. These turtles are clever enough to create deception for predators by making empty nests.
Should You Re-Bury Turtle Eggs In Another Spot?
No, you shouldn’t rebury the eggs in another spot. Turtles choose their nest site carefully. They know the precise depth, moisture level, temperature, and other prerequisites for eggs to hatch. So, if you reposition them in different places, they will not hatch.
Should You Remove Turtle Eggs From Your Yard?
You need not remove these turtle eggs, as they will eventually hatch after three months or mostly turn out to be infertile. But if your conscience tells you to remove them, call animal control and have them do it.
What To Do If The Turtle Doesn’t Leave After Laying Eggs?
Typically, most turtles wouldn’t hurt a fly. However, snapping turtles can get aggressive and try to bite you if you approach to handle them. So, call animal control and have the turtle taken. These professionals will use turtle traps to catch these overstaying guests.
Final Words On What To Do If A Turtle Lays Eggs In Your Yard
Every year, turtles travel far and wide in search of dry places to lay their eggs. Unfortunately, only a handful of these eggs survive and make it to adulthood out of hundreds of eggs.
If you have a turtle laying its eggs in your yard, you have two options – first, you can provide some shelter and let them take their natural course, or second, you can call animal control and have them taken.
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