Another Sign of the Season

by Carl Strang

We have enjoyed some unseasonably warm weather in northeast Illinois this week, with daily highs reaching the 70’s F on some days. As I passed the parking lot marsh at Mayslake Forest Preserve on Tuesday I saw something dark near the top of one of the muskrat houses.

I had been checking for signs of Canada goose nest building, but that wasn’t it.

It proved to be a very large common snapping turtle.

It had been out long enough that the algae on its shell had dried.

There seem to be three things that draw the big snappers out of the water. One is egg-laying, another is having their pond dry up and needing to find another, and the third is sunny warm days in early spring. I have to think it feels good, but apparently not enough to become habitual, because while painted turtles, our other abundant species, bask throughout the season, snappers only seem to do so now.

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