Meet Our Newest Lake Resident:  A Baby Florida Cooter Turtle

Sunday, October 3, 2021

These are Florida Cooters.. They are fresh water turtles and live in lakes, ponds and rivers throughout the state. We often see them sunning along the lakeshore–usually in the late afternoon.
We don’t often see them wandering across the grass.
However, when it’s time to build a nest, the female turtle becomes quite determined!!! She will make a mighty effort to find the perfect nesting location.
And at the end of June, we were surprised and delighted to see a Mama Cooter come ashore and build her nest under the live oak.
She used her rear flippers to dig a hole. The depth of the hole (and therefore the depth of the eggs) will be determined by the turtle’s size–the larger the turtle; the deeper the nest.
It takes quite a biat of time to build the nest and Mama is persistent in her digging.
Unfortunately, she attracts an audience. Note the squirrel watching intently from the shadows at the left.
She’s also seen by a couple of young racoons. Racoons love turtle eggs!!!
So do crows. While Mama Turtle toiled with the nest-building, the crows flew unto the tree branches and bided their time waiting for her to finish. No doubt anticipating an enjoyable meal!!!
Once the eggs are deposited, Mama’s job in done.
She turns her back on the nest and will not return.
She does not tend nor watch over the nest. She simply returns to the lake.
Her job is done; her responsibility is over. The eggs are left to fate.
And to us!!! We immediatelly rushed out to secure the nesting area from the threatening predators!!!
We covered the nest and headed to the hardware store for materials to create a fortress!!!
We secured the area!!!
And added caution tape to keep the landscapers away from the nest for the next 3 months while gestation took place. We also added a camera to watch the process.
And that’s how we saw the racoon trying to get into the nest!!!
And the squirrel!!! We also saw possums and an armadillo come by to inspect the area!!!

Oh Happy Day!!!! On September 30th–three months after Mama Turtle created the nest– the first baby Cooter was spotted!!!
It usually take 2 or 3 months for the eggs to hatch. We anticipated seeing hatchlings around the end of August. But temperature and rain affect the timing. Our little guy didn’t make an appearance until September 30th!!!
Isn’t he just the cutest!!!
We scooped him up and took him to the lakeshore where he promptly Jumped in and swam to the depths!!!
Now he’s on his own!!!! We hope he finds his family and the other Cooters. We like to think he’ll survive the daunting predators and grow to enjoy a long and sun-filled life!!!
But he’ll have to elude the otters!!!

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