Many large snapping turtles live in the Varnum Brook Pond. In mid-June, right after school got out, a female climbed the pond’s bank and laid 30 eggs in the Varnum Brook sandbox. The eggs look and feel like Ping-Pong balls, with flexible, leathery shells. The eggs incubated in the sand for 80 days and were just about to hatch when some children found them during recess. A kind staff person dug them up, being careful not to jostle them. The eggs were brought to Mr. Pineda’s 7th-grade life science classroom where they have been hatching out over the past two weeks! Luckily, Mr. Pineda is a turtle expert! He just finished a class on reptiles! So far 22 adorable little snappers have hatched! Students have named them all after cartoon characters like the Ninja Turtles and Pokémon.
After hatching, they are observed in the classroom for two days. Next, they are released in nearby Willard Brook State Forest in Ashby, where they will be safe from the many hazards presented by the roads and development near their natal pond. Wish them luck!