Last year my brother-in-law John saw that raccoons quickly devoured the eggs turtle laid at an Illinois golf course. This year he decided to intervene when a turtle laid eggs nearby, in an area that was also likely to be trampled by golfers. He gingerly dug up the nine eggs and put them in a hole lined with chicken wire and to incubate in peace. The raccoon struck again at another nest nearby.
That was back in May. A few days ago nine of them hatched. So far they’re active, especially in the sun, and nibbling plants and turtle food. John is such a sweet guy he’s worried about releasing them back to the golf course marsh while they’re still so tiny–and while a hawk lingers.
They’re identity is still unclear. Box turtle? Slider? Painted turtle? Illinois has 17 species of turtle, but we can rule out the six with spiny, overly rounded or soft shells. The Illinois site isn’t all that helpful with hatchling ID, but Discoverlife lets you do a little turtle detective work. With their help I’m leaning towards the painted turtle. We don’t really think it’s one of Illinois’ four endangered turtles ( alligator snapping turtle, river cooter, spotted turtle, yellow mud turtle).
That doesn’t mean they’re not worth saving. Even if you don’t consider them important as individuals, turtles all over the country are in short supply because so many wetlands were drained. So, these turtles are getting a little help and headstart
Where to Go to See Turtles