Spring 2005
Vol. 13 No. 1
"Vision without action is only a dream. Action without vision only passes time. Vision with action can change the world." - Joel Baker

In this issue...

Reflections from the President

Annual Meeting Features Community Participation

Conservation Donations in Peril

Nature Area

Looking for Deer Resistant Plants?

More Than Just a Snappy Name

Red-Winged Blackbird

Did you know?

Upcoming Events...

March 18
Work Day
BASF Lot (To cut down phragmites)

March 24
Environmental Achievement Award Presented
Detroit Athletic Club

April 2
Nature Area Reopens

April 7
Emerald Ash Borer Conference
7:00 PM
Township Hall
Merle Solomon Room

March 24
Earth Day Celebration
10:00 AM to 2:00 PM
Nature Area

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More Than Just a Snappy Name
by Marie Wilger

The Snapping Turtle (Chelydra serpentina), a native to Michigan, can be found throughout most of the state. The Snapping Turtle also happens to proudly wear the title of Michigan's largest turtle. The average Snapper usually grows to weigh a whopping 10 to 35 pounds, but the record weight in the state is 86 pounds!

Snapping turtles are aquatic, or water turtles commonly found in muddy rivers, marshes, and lakes. Snapping turtles love taking leisurely swims through their murky habitats of water dense with plant growth. When Snapping Turtles feel endangered in the water, they usually hide themselves amongst the plants and mud and do not use their famous "snapping defense". However, they are easily agitated on land and are quick to defend themselves with their long neck and sharp jaw. This "snapping" does not have a special name, but I like to call it the "Mike Tyson Defense".

Handling these chomp-happy animals can be tricky. The only safe way of handling a Snapping Turtle is to grab it by the base of the tail and avoid contact with its head, especially the mouth! However, if a Snapping Turtle is picked up incorrectly, the turtle can be injured and cause injury to others. It is best to avoid handling the Snapping Turtles at all costs.

Although Snapping Turtles may appear to be ravenous meat eaters, they are really omnivorous. They enjoy gorging themselves with small animals such as fish, frogs, birds, and small mammals, and also eat a variety of plants. Snapping Turtles, however, aren't the only animals to enjoy eating meat. The Snapping Turtle is the most demanded of turtle meats and is used to make turtle soup.

Snapping Turtle breeding takes place in the spring and early summer months. Mother Snapping Turtles build their nests in moist sand and soil in sunny areas. These mommy turtles can lay anywhere from 10 eggs to as many as near 100! It usually takes the eggs 55 to 125 days to hatch; however, most are destroyed by predators or do not survive into adulthood.

Although Snapping Turtles are found in most areas of Michigan, their numbers are decreasing. Natural predators are not the only reason for this. Snapping Turtles are becoming increasingly rare due to exploitation. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has rules and regulations on the catching and keeping of Snapping Turtles, but it is best to leave these animals in nature.