In our area we have the common snapping turtle. This is the largest freshwater turtle in the Northeast. It can grow up to 60 pounds. They are known for their aggressiveness on land. Despite their reputation, they do not appear to be interested in attacking humans.
Snapping turtles are not afraid of swimmers or swimmers’ friends. During nesting, females leave a trail of wheels on the sand. These are used as a visual clue to where the nest is located.
One of the most prominent terrestrial predators of hatchlings is the yellow crab. The carapace of this creature measures up to 120 mm long, making it a formidable foe. However, it lacks any innate response to humans.
Although group formation is common among prey species, little is known about the impact of this behavior on predation rates. This study was designed to test whether larger groups of freshwater turtles can reduce predation risk.
Researchers observed 2494 hatchlings in 51 different groups. The results showed that the size of the group did not affect the number of depredated hatchlings. Instead, it was significantly related to the time of day.
A significant increase in the number of hatchlings per group only occurred when the abundance of predators was at its peak. The implication is that the synchronous emergence of turtles may be an effective strategy for reducing predation risk.
The study also found that the size of the group had no measurable effect on the amount of time needed for predation to occur. The effect was only apparent earlier in the night.