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Nature Notebook – Fall Hatchlings

One might think that the season for cute baby animals is over. However, this past week we had encounters with a number of very young reptiles.

In an amazing feat of acrobatics, a young snapping turtle was observed climbing on the butterfly house net. We saw it on its way down from a height of 15 feet. Whether it had gone up and turned around or had climbed completely over the structure from the other side was unknown.

The exceptionally warm weather may have confused the turtle. Usually turtles that hatch at this time of year remain in their nest to hibernate. This guy might have thought it was still summer and he had to find some water. Can’t say much for his sense of direction.

A garter snake hatchling and black rat snake hatchling were also spotted. Both were probably also trying to locate a hibernation spot rather than hunting. Reptiles have to start hibernation with an empty stomach. Otherwise, the food that will go undigested from lack of environmental warmth will rot in their guts and kill them. The black rat snake will return to its nest; the garter snake will look for a place close to the pond.