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Friday, December 8, 2017

Turtle eggs in December at Adirondack Wildlife Refuge

Eggs with a hatched snapping turtle on top. The red color is caused by the heat lamp. Photo by Tracy Ormsbee

Snapping turtles are hatching right now at the Adirondack Wildlife Refuge. Call it what you like–a fluke, a surprise–but Wendy Hall who runs the refuge with her husband calls it a clear sign of climate change.

A nest of eggs found in Tupper Lake was brought to the refuge earlier this week, where Hall had them under a heat lamp. By Tuesday, two or three of them had hatched.

Changes in the weather cause wildlife to readjust and warmer temperatures can throw off natural schedules. It affects animals that use snow for good tracking and hunting or those that hibernate. Snow thaws and turns to ice, which affects burrowing creature who can’t penetrate the layers of ice.

Snapping turtles usually lay their eggs in the spring and summer and they hatch between August and October, Hall says. So the cycle is definitely off for these turtles. They need a warm environment to hatch, which they’re getting now at the refuge.

Tracy Ormsbee

Tracy Ormsbee is the new publisher of the Adirondack Explorer. When she’s not working – and it’s not black fly season – you can find her outdoors hiking, running, paddle boarding or reading a book on an Adirondack chair somewhere.

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