Raccoon pillaged this turtle's nest

Sunday, July 15, 2012

The day I took this photo I happened upon a red-eared slider laying eggs in a hole it had made in the ground. I did not disturb the turtle or even stop to photograph her knowing that her task should continue undisturbed. Her eggs would need to be laid and immediately covered with dirt before she went back to the safety of the pond nearby. The nest would be left unguarded by the female turtle from that point on.

Nearby I found raccoon tracks and evidence of turtle nest destruction. My photo here shows where a raccoon has dug up the nest and eaten the eggs laid by a red-eared slider. I placed a quarter on the ground to show size correlation.

The red-eared slider is a native southern United States water turtle. It is the turtle seen most often in Southeast Missouri basking on logs partially submerged in water. Its eggs are white and oblong. Raccoons seeking out nests to pillage will return night after night to a nest area favored by red-eared sliders. Nests at the area's fringe will often go undiscovered by the raccoons and eggs in those nests will survive and hatch.

Through the Woods is a weekly nature photo column by Aaron Horrell. Find this column at semissourian.com to order a reprint of the photo. Find more work by him at the Painted Wren Gallery.

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