Snapping Turtles

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If you hit a sibling, your mom would be mad. Nevertheless, if you were a snapping turtle and you used your brothers and sisters as stepstools when climbing out of the nest, there would be no “Go to your room”. The mom left more than 75 days ago! (Also, there is no room. and even if there is, the kids have to scurry out of the nest!) Every spring and summer, snapping turtles emerge from eggs in marshy areas. Snapping turtles hatchlings’ instincts help them survive. Aggressive hunting continues to help turtles exist. Reproducing with eggs and leaving them help generations continue.

Instincts are very important for snapping turtle hatchlings. First, the little hatchling instinctively cracks the shell of his egg with an egg tooth, which is on his upper jaw. The second instinct for the turtles is to dig to the surface of the ground. The turtles trample other turtles trying to accomplish the same task. Thirdly, the turtle scurries on a dangerous journey to the closest body of water. If he avoids predators, he then dives into the water. Finally, the turtle digs in the muck and stays hidden. If a baby snapping turtle had no instincts, he would not survive.

Snapping turtles hunt aggressively. Below mud, unseen, they wait. When a fish is near, the turtle jolts out. Quickly, the food is snapped in half! This is called an ambush. Other times, snapping turtles walk slowly on the bottom of a stream. When they do this, which is called bottom walking, they eat plants, dead fish, insects, and snails. During hibernation, they eat what is left in their food-sac (if they still have it) and an occasional beetle or grub. Above the surface, they might eat a small bird. It is an instinct for a turtle to hunt like this.

Snapping turtles reproduce by laying eggs. Since they are reptiles, the eggs are laid on land. A turtle instinct commands the 6-year-old turtle to dig a hole in a marshy area. Her eggs slide out from the base of her tail for her leg to gently pack about 14-40 eggs in the nest, which is called a clutch. She covers the clutch with soil. She lies on top to compact it with her weight. This process only took a few hours. Quickly, the mother leaves to eat. If no harm comes, then in 75-95 days her eggs will hatch. Although she would never meet them, it is an instinct for a snapping turtle to lay eggs this way.

Now, think about your instincts. Turtles have many more. Instinctively, baby snapping turtle hatchlings go to the water. Snapping turtles hunt violently because it is an instinct for them to do so. Instinctively, snapping turtles lay eggs. Now, what do you think? Do you think that snapping turtles have many more instincts than you do?

(c) Friday, February 17, 2017

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