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We have a wild Red Eared turtle laying eggs in our yard. What can we do to keep animals from getting to their eggs?

We had a turtle to lay eggs about two weeks ago and the next morning, something had dug the eggs up and eaten them.

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    I wonder if it was a wild animal, or someone's pet. If it was a wild animal, then there's a risk of interfering with nature and having unintended consequences, by doing what seems to be a kindness but isn't. – Don Branson May 23 '18 at 9:01
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    Is there a 'red eared turtles' rescue organization (or a wider turtles or even wildlife in general one) in your country/area? If so, they would be the best to contact. If the turtles are an endangered species they might even dug up the eggs and take them somewhere safe. – Willeke May 23 '18 at 9:51
  • @Willeke - you should turn that into an answer. – Don Branson May 23 '18 at 12:49
  • @DonBranson I think you have done it much better than I ever could. – Willeke May 23 '18 at 15:20
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    @Willeke - That's kind, thank you. – Don Branson May 23 '18 at 15:26
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There are a number of considerations here, so getting educated is the first step in responding to the Red Eared sliders. There could be positive and negative effects.

Contact your local conservation department. They'll know how to proceed.

If the species is native, you might want to protect it from domestic animals. On the other hand, if you protect it from their normal predators, you might save the clutch of a mother who chose a poor location (or not), negating natural selection, and nurturing generations of turtles that don't choose good locations, thus saving a clutch to weaken the species.

If the species is invasive, it's competing with native species, and may drive them to extinction within your range. Would you want to fertilize kudzu in the southern U.S., or protect rabbits in Australia?

Are they a turtle that prefers to return to the site where they were hatched? In that case, it might be better for this clutch and the species at large if a conservation group could move the eggs to a more suitable location.

Now, assuming you want to build a nest cage, that would keep out many types of predators, and that might include the one you're dealing with. But, you don't know what you're dealing with. Conservationists can help you with that. If you have your own trail cam, you might be able to see what the predator is. You need to know what it is in order to combat it successfully.

As you can see, getting educated before acting is the most crucial first step in order to act for the best outcome for the environment as a whole.

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    thank you for including your point about natural selection. – Jonathan Landrum May 23 '18 at 14:54
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    +1 for invasive species: "[this] turtle is considered one of the world’s worst invasive species.", from Wikipedia, Red eared Slider. – ab2 May 23 '18 at 19:32
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My research has shown that a common technique used to protect turtle nest to build a nest cage over the nest.

A nest cage is basically just a wire/mesh cage without a bottom/floor that will prevent predators from accessing/digging up the eggs, while still allowing for the normal climate and weather (e.g. sunshine) to reach the nest - meaning don't build a solid wooden box.

  • The cage should be anchored and the sides dug in such that it can't easily be moved/turned over by a predator.
  • Wiring should be small enough to prevent predatory access, but big enough to allow the turtle hatchlings to pass through (depends on species of turtle of course).

I found this PDF here that explains the procedure and shows some pictures also.

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    what about small snakes? i would assume the diameter of a hatched turtle might be wider than a garter snake, for example (I don't know if that species regularly eats eggs). – Jonathan Landrum May 23 '18 at 13:19
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    @JonathanLandrum - even if garter snakes are the wrong size, snakes come in all sizes, so surely there's one that fits just right_. If the hatched turtles can get out, there's a snake that can get in. Not to mention coons, who are experts at defeating this sort of thing. – Don Branson May 23 '18 at 13:43
  • yep, have seen this exact system while in Malaysia. With some sort of predators a wire fence might suffice – april rain May 23 '18 at 14:24
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    Also look out for fire ants : I have seen them eat box turtles as they hatch. – blacksmith37 May 23 '18 at 14:53

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