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Rare Wood Turtles: Homeowner Rescues Eggs During Backyard Renovation In Nova Scotia

Nov 08, 2015 06:07 PM EST
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Minuscule rare wood turtle eggs that are about the size of a person's thumb were recently uncovered during a backyard renovation in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. Homeowner Peter Buschmann was quick to remove the eight tiny eggs from harm's way and keep them safe, ensuring they could grow and develop properly. 

After collecting the eggs, Buschmann made a little hill out of the sand, placed the eggs on top, and then covered them, according to CBC News. In Nova Scotia, wood turtles are protected under the Endangered Species Act as a species at risk.

Wood turtles (Glyptemys insculpta) have a very limited range due to their complex habitat needs. Generally, they can be found across the northeastern U.S. and throughout parts of Canada. Wood turtles are both terrestrial and aquatic animals. When fall rolls around, turtles retreat to rivers and large streams for hibernation where they remain underwater throughout the winter. They are able to stay completely submerged by filtering out dissolved oxygen from the water. 

To create a safer home for the rare turtles, Buschmann placed wire mesh over the eggs to keep out his three dogs and other predators, according to CBC News. Then he waited patiently for about a month until they hatched. 

"Every day in the morning, as well as the evening, I went there to this tiny little hill," he said. "I looked down there and I saw that the sand was broken and here came out a little tiny turtle. The turtle had a size of maybe a twoonie."

Buschmann was worried the turtles were too small to make their way to the nearest pond, so he called the Department of Natural Resources to ask what to do them. Terry Power, a biologist with the department, responded and helped Buschmann move them to safety. 

"We moved them down in my hand and then I lowered the hand in the water and the little turtle starts to swim and swam away," Buschmann explained. "Some of them dived down and some of them swam around."

Adult wood turtles can grow to be upwards of 25 centimeters long. In the meantime, the newly hatched little guys began burrowing into the mud of the pond after being released. They will remain there until spring and feed off the yolk sacs attacted to their bodies. 

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