Nature Matters: Baby Snapping Turtles Invade Home

By KBJR News 1

October 1, 2013 Updated Oct 1, 2013 at 1:37 PM CDT

Fish Lake, MN (NNCNOW.com)

It may look like Greg Dinneen is making himself a pot of turtle soup but he's really giving the little critters a helping hand.
They're baby snapping turtles and they hatched from the soil roof of his underground home on Fish Lake north of Duluth.

"We noticed them at five a.m. this morning in the dark. My wife was outside and she had a headlamp on and she told me they were hatching." said Dinneen.

22 of the snappers hatched in total.
Some fell from the roof and Dinneen helped the rest get to the lake.
Autumn is the time of year that snapper eggs hatch and the turtles have adapted to survive despite entering the world just before it freezes over.

"They're not like other turtles that where they need to be on land a whole lot so they're a little more aquatic than even most of our aquatic turtles." said Ashley Hrabe of Hartley Nature Center.

Snapping turtles have the fearsome reputation of being the Northland lakes' version of jaws but naturalists at Hartley Nature Center tell us the turtles would rather flee than fight.
And, they're important to our ecosystem because of their predatory nature.

"It's best for the prey species because it doesn't allow them to get overabundant." said Hrabe.

Autumnal hatches of snappers like this one are nothing new at the Dinneen home.
It happens every year and sometimes in even greater numbers.
Greg and his wife Adrienne take the annual drip of snappers from the roof in stride.

"They frequent this area. They were here long before the house so we share it with them." said Dinneen.

At Fish Lake for Nature Matters, Dave Anderson, KBJR 6 and Range 11.

The folks at Hartley Nature Center want to remind us that motorists should slow down for turtles crossing the road when safely possible.