Next Gen Turtles

By Sam Nunes, Environmental Educator

September is in full swing which means we can expect to see turtle hatchlings emerging from their nests and scurrying back to the ponds their parents came from. Their eggs were laid towards the beginning of summer underground in the dirt no more than a mile or so from their water source. Interestingly, the temperature of the egg decides the sex of the turtle. So, turtles closer to the warm surface of the nest tend to be female, while the eggs deeper into the cold dirt tend to be male.


Two popular species you can find in Connecticut are:

Painted Turtles

  • Hatchings are about the size of a quarter

  • Adults grow to 6 inches long

  • Black shell on the top with distinctive orange and yellow patterns under the sides of the shell, and yellow and black markings along the face

  • Painted turtles are generally safe to handle to move across the street if you see one, but just make sure you wash your hands afterwards because….


Snapping Turtles

  • Hatchlings are about 1.5-2 inches

  • Adults can grow 20 inches long

  • Dark black or brown on the top shell with a light tan underside

  • Snapping turtles cannot fit fully inside their shell and therefore are very aggressive when they feel threatened. If you need to move one off the road, it’s a good idea to see if you can get them to move without touching them, or cover their face with a cloth or shirt so they can’t see you while you handle them.


Turtles are important to the ecosystem because they help to spread native seeds, and their eggs provide a healthy food source for native animals. Keep your eye out for little baby turtles while you’re going about your day!

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