On Saturday, Pipsqueak was out digging in the sand on the beach next to our pond when she unearthed three little painted turtles only about 1 inch in diameter. There was a small piece of egg near one of them, so they must have just hatched. She brought them up to the house and buried them in the gravel of her nature tank. The nature tank has been a "24 hour vacation home" for newts, salamanders, frogs, toads, a snake, worms and caterpillers for purposes of short-term observation, but these were the first turtle guests.
By Sunday morning, two of the little darlings had dug themselves out. Alas, the third did not survive. Its shell was soft, so we're thinking it was an abnormality and not any mishandling by a six year old. She is a very gentle and loving soul. It was time to release the little ones back into the wild. But wait! First, let's have a photo or two to remember this moment.
We released them on Turtle Log. It's a big log that Sweetie upon his tractor dragged part way in the pond so the turtles could climb up on it to sun themselves. These two looked around for a couple of minutes and went swimming.
Being a responsible naturalist, she then dug a hole in the beach and buried the deceased baby turtle.
We think this may have been the turtle mom. We found her in our driveway in early May when I was bringing Pipsqueak home from school. After a quick photo, we took her to the safer location of our beach where she stayed for an hour or so probably laying her eggs. That goes along with the 10-12 weeks that it takes for painted turtle eggs to hatch.