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Turtle Crossing

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It’s nesting time for turtles, an annual event that draws these water lovers reluctantly to the land. Though usually in the water or basking somewhere adjacent, all of Illinois’s turtles build terrestrial nests.
Each spring, after mating, females leave the pond to locate a suitable place close to their home waterway to lay their eggs. She may select a sandy area of shoreline, a section of turf grass or a shady patch under a tree. The female digs to prepare the nest, lays her eggs, and covers them, leaving them to incubate. Now very tired, the mother turtle slowly returns to the pond. Her hatchlings will make the same journey 6-16 weeks later, depending upon species.
Turtle in Lily Pool

Please watch out for these slow pokes on trails and roadways. They know where they’re going but are not fast in getting there. If you’re near North Pond, or another local waterway, go slow enough to maneuver safely around a turtle.

Please do not move turtles. Only move a turtle if it is in imminent danger and only in the direction it was already going. A turtle will refuse to be re-routed and will go back in the direction it was headed. If you must handle a turtle, pick her up by the shell with one hand behind each of her front legs, keeping her low to the ground. Never pick a turtle up by the tail. Don’t be surprised if the turtle defecates when handled, and if it’s a snapper or softshell it will likely kick or bite. With necks extending over half their body length, these turtles can strike shockingly fast and bite remarkably hard when startled or threatened. Plus, traveling turtles are irritable and exhausted from egg laying and trudging. If you catch one in the act, appreciate these amazing creatures from a respectful distance. 

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