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Dozens of snapping turtles hatch in a Sea Cliff backyard

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In June, the Reidy family found a critter shacking up in their side yard. It wasn’t your standard squirrel or basic bird, but a snapping turtle. Christine Reidy told the Herald Gazette that upon discovery of the slow-moving snapper, it proceeded to dig a hole in the ground. There, it laid 36 eggs, which finally hatched on Aug. 30.

“Our children were completely in awe,” Reidy said when the turtle was first discovered. “The turtle looked so huge to them, and they couldn’t believe that it was able to lay all those eggs. They watched the whole thing; it took over an hour.” Reidy said she believes the turtle came from Scudder’s Pond, as it’s the only freshwater body within the vicinity of their Sea Cliff home.

The family fortified the nesting ground to protect the tiny turtles. With the help of their neighbors, they surrounded the area with large stones and bricks to create a perimeter and laid a mesh net over the eggs. “What we read is the eggs usually end up getting eaten by skunks and raccoons,” Reidy said, “and that’s supposed to protect them.”

Reidy’s daughters — Anna, Julia and Maura — also drew a handmade sign to hang near the nest. It reads, “Be aware: turtle eggs under the net. Watch out for the baby snapping turtles; they can bite your finger off.”

Through some thorough internet research, the Reidy family determined that the turtles would hatch in early-to-mid-September. This made the kids even more surprised when they noticed the soil around the nest moving. Upon further investigation and a little digging, out popped a little turtle, soon followed by its brothers and sisters.

“They were so excited to see nature right in front of their eyes,” Reidy said of her children, mentioning that it was the very first thing they told their classes when school started up on Sept. 4.

Reidy and the kids packed the turtles into a soil-filled box and brought them to the Sea Cliff home of her friend Sara Jones, whose backyard has a small creek that leads down to Scudder’s Pond. Reidy said it was exciting to see the turtles’ as they instinctively crawled toward the pond, something which truly amazed her children.

“It was an experience they’re not going to forget,” she said.