How to Hatch & Take Care of Snapping Turtle Eggs (Full Guide)

Snapping turtles are a unique turtle breed that are best known for their powerful jaws. These turtles are aquatic and prefer slow-moving water bodies with mud at the bottom. This allows these turtles to hide from other dangerous predators quite easily.

A snapping turtle that’s heading out to lay eggs may behave a bit aggressively. Therefore, it is best to stay away from it during this time. These turtles spend their lives underwater until they need to lay eggs. It is when the female snapping turtle surfaces that she finds an optimal spot to lay her eggs.

In this guide we’ll go over what to do if you find snapping turtle eggs and how to care for them.

You Found Snapping Turtle Eggs? What to do?

If you come across these turtle eggs on your day at the beach, there are a couple things you can do. The first is to leave the eggs as they are, and let nature take its course. Alternatively, you can pick these eggs up take them to the incubator and take care of them until they hatch out.

However, you should know that letting nature take its course can often kill turtles. This is because some of these turtles do not make it out of the eggs alive. Others do not grow properly and leave the egg.

How to Take Care of Snapping Turtle Eggs

Following is the best way to take care of snapping turtle eggs until they hatch properly.

Step #1 Use Vermiculite

The first method involves using Vermiculite to hold the eggs. You can find this vermiculite in a general or garden store quite easily. These bags are lightweight, durable, and can last for several decades, making them an ideal pick for hatching turtle eggs.

In addition, you also need to use a shoebox to carry the hatch of eggs to a safe place. However, you should drill some holes into the shoebox to ensure proper ventilation for the eggs.

Next, take equal amounts of water and vermiculite and mix them in a box. It is important to measure the weight of the components instead of their volume for the process. Misbalance in this amount will have an impact on the moisture inside the bag and can stop the eggs from hatching.

It is important to leave out a few inches in the box. As a rule of thumb, prepare the mixture in a way that the water drips but no vermiculite comes out if you press it.

Next, place the eggs in the incubator by pressing the vermiculite with your finger and make an impression. Do not try to make a deeper impression because it will not make a difference. Also, ensure that you leave a portion of the egg empty and not cover it completely with vermiculite.

Another important thing to keep in mind is to keep the eggs in the incubator in the same order that you dug them out of the hole. You can do this by making multicolored markings on the eggs when you take them out to remember them later on as well.

Step #2 Incubate the Eggs

The incubation process is much easier because all you need to do is place the turtle eggs in a warm place where no one disturbs them. You need to place the lid tightly so that the summer heat can do its job. There are other professional incubator boxes out in the market, which can help you increase the chances of incubating the eggs successfully.

The better the quality incubator you use, the higher the chances of a successful hatch. These incubator boxes maintain the conditions for the egg and accelerate the hatching process. These incubation boxes can also control the temperature and humidity of these eggs and ensure they can hatch healthily.

It is essential to note that these turtles need higher humidity levels to hatch as compared to land turtles. This is where the methods of incubating come in. These methods include high humidity incubation and low humidity incubation.

High Humidity Incubation

The high humidity incubation boxes are for amphibious reptiles that need more water exposure. It is because the embryos developing in cool wet conditions use the proteins in the embryos the most and also have the largest size while hatching. Therefore, investing in a high humidity incubator can help you improve your chances of hatching the egg perfectly. Moreover, these eggs also have more lipids from their egg yolks.

Low Humidity Incubation

Low-humidity works a little differently. Turtles developing in warm, dry, and low humidity levels mobilize the smallest sizes of yolk protein and therefore, are smaller. Dry incubation eggs have smaller amounts of lipids in their composition. Moreover, drier turtle eggs have harder coverings too.

Step #3 Hatching

Most of the turtle eggs hatch around 60 days if you do everything correctly. However, factors like the temperature conditions may impact the amount of time the eggs take. Surprisingly, a minor difference (as low as two degrees) can make a huge difference n the hatching process.

For example, some turtle species may also take up to 90 days to hatch out. However, it is essential to not touch the baby turtles, even when they come out of their eggs. You should transfer them to a new box instead. This box doesn’t need Vermiculite, and simply placing a wet towel will do the trick.

These little turtle babies can stay in the new container for a week and can absorb the egg sack properly. You do not have to feed these baby turtles during this period, but you can still provide them with smaller snacks for necessary nutrients to survive.

Hatching and taking care of hatching turtle eggs is not difficult if you know the right method for it. We suggest you follow the steps we mentioned, prepare an incubation box for them, and wait for them to hatch out during a period of 60 to 90 days. However, it is important to remain cautious on each of these steps because it may impact your success at hatching these eggs properly.

Ensure checking out our comprehensive frequently asked questions sections for more information about hatching the snapping turtle eggs.

Steps of a Snapping Turtle Laying Eggs

We have a few tips that can help you understand if a snapping turtle is going to lay eggs soon. These are as follows:

Spends More Time on the Ground

The biggest sign is that these snapping turtles start spending extra time on land and try digging holes in various spots in the ground. This is a test to choose the best place to lay its eggs. The turtle may take a few hours to find the right spot and then stay there for a bit.

Changes Walking Patterns

You may observe a change in the way a snapping turtle walks if it is about to lay eggs. These turtles become slower than usual during this time.

Starts Digging

Once the snapping turtle finds a suitable place to lay eggs, it starts digging into the ground. The snapping turtles start by digging the ground with their front legs in the beginning and then continue the rest of the digging with their hind legs. The turtle continues to dig until the ground hole is big enough to hold the turtle and the eggs.

Lays and Leaves

Once the turtle has the right-sized hole, it lays eggs inside it and covers the hole. The turtle then leaves the eggs and returns to the sea as she will not come back for the eggs. The rest of the processes are in the hands of Mother Nature.

Factors that Destroy Snapping Turtle eggs in Nature

Several factors may impact the egg’s hatching, and stop the turtle from ever coming out alive. These may include inconsistent weather changes, higher amounts of rain, cold weather, and sharp weather changes.

However, you would only have to take care of the complete hatch for as little as two months and provide these turtles a better chance at life. You should only choose to take them out for an incubator if you are ready for the responsibility to take care of them.

Are Chicken and Turtle Eggs the Same?

Most people believe that hatching a turtle and chicken egg is similar, but it is not. Reptile eggs are quite different as they are much tougher. It is still important to carry them with caution because you could damage the eggs because of a little mishandling.

It is wise to keep in mind not to change the orientation of the turtle eggs after 4 hours of staying in the incubator. Otherwise, it could stop the eggs from hatching properly.

Frequently Asked Question

How many eggs does a turtle lay at a time?

Turtles may lay 15 to 50 eggs on average. However, the number of eggs may vary for each turtle species. Read about how many eggs Red Eared Sliders lay here.

Can turtle eggs hatch in water?

No, turtles can never hatch their eggs in the water, which is why they have to come out of the water to lay eggs. The eggs hatch and the baby turtles make their way back to the sea afterward.

When do turtles lay eggs?

There are various timings for different turtle species. However, most of the turtles lay their eggs during the summertime because the warmer temperature makes it easier for the eggs to hatch.

How long do snapping turtle eggs take to hatch?

Snapping turtle eggs take 60-90 days to hatch, depending on conditions.

How deep do snapping turtles bury their eggs?

Snapping turtles bury their eggs 5 to 7 inches deep into the ground.

What to do if snapping turtles lay eggs in your yard?

It is best to leave the eggs alone if snapping turtles lay eggs in your yard.

Do snapping turtle eggs hatch at the same time?

No, snapping turtle eggs do not hatch at the same time.

Should I protect snapping turtle eggs?

Yes, you should try and protect snapping turtle eggs. However, you must remember that it is a big responsibility.

Can you relocate snapping turtle eggs?

Yes, you can relocate snapping turtle eggs, but you should move them in the direction they are facing or the eggs may not develop properly.

Do snapping turtle eggs need water?

No, snapping turtle eggs do not need water, which is why the female snapping turtle lays eggs on the surface instead of the sea.