Who is this creature emerging from a sandy hole in September? They are just over an inch long.
A baby snapping turtle!
In the spring, female snapping turtles dig a nest in a well-drained open spot where the sun will incubate the eggs. She lays an average of 20-40 ping-pong ball-like eggs, covers the nest with the excavated soil, and heads back to the wetlands from which she came.
Most baby turtle eggs will not survive. A study from southeastern Michigan over 17 years found an average of 23% of survivorship of snapping turtle nests, although some years 0% survived the predation of raccoons, fox, mink, and others.
After around three months, if the snapping turtles beat the odds and survive, they will use their egg tooth to break open the shell, dig out of the nest, and head to water up to a quarter-mile away. If they survive their journey to their watery home, then there are great blue herons, bullfrogs, water snakes, largemouth bass, and larger turtle predators to evade!