Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Unexpected find

The other morning, after a pleasant walk about Howarth Park, a city park in Santa Rosa CA, I was surprised to come across a turtle laying her eggs in a picnic area a bit of a distance on turtle legs from the lake that's the heart of this park. She had created a patch of mud by digging with her hind legs and, apparently, producing a lot of liquid. She blended well into her surroundings. When I stopped to make some sketches a crowd of humans gathered around, most wondering if she was my pet. I worked quickly and left so that she could go on about her business in private. I added the color later, at home.

If you had a pet turtle when you were a child you might recognize the Red-eared slider (Trachemys scripta elegans), the most popular pet turtle in the world. The one I spotted was a bit bigger than the turtle I had when I was very young, with a shell that was about 10 inches ( 25.4cm) long. In northern California Red-eared sliders, natives of the American southeast, are easily spotted basking on logs and rocks in lakes and ponds, often alongside our only native freshwater turtle, the Western pond turtle (Clemmys marmorata).

If raccoons, rats, humans or other predators don’t disturb the nest which, by the way, is now nearly invisible, the eggs will hatch in 60 to 90 days and the hatchlings will try to make their way to the lake. If they make it that far birds, bullfrogs, fish and humans all threaten their survival.



  1. Amazing the opportunity to see such a beautiful scene like that!
    Ana from Brazil

  2. It's been years since I've been priviledged to watch a turtle egg laying. What wonderful memories it brought back. We rented a house that didn't have a lawn yet. About a dozen painted turtles choose to lay their eggs in our loose dirt. Our chesapeak (dog) surpervised each nest from a distance.

    Wonderful post .... so good to see you online again!

  3. Debbie, how exciting! I've never seen this, in all my years...

  4. So cool that you happened across her! I love the detail of the head as well. Nice to see you sketching and painting again!

  5. hmmm...from my European point of view, the introducion (and later freeing into our environment) of Trachemys as pet has caused a threat to our freshwater life.They eat anything, even attack ducklings,so I can't feel tenderly for mama painted turtle...sorry!


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