Depending on the species of turtle and climate, turtle eggs take about 2-4 months to hatch. Even though it's now October, there are still baby turtles struggling to get to water. Here's what they go through and of course, what you can do to help them out.
When you think about it, baby turtles are lucky to get out of the nest at all. First they've got to hatch, which means incubation temperatures need to be constant and within a specific range for a few months. Hopefully, predators and curious animals have left the nest alone. Creatures as small as ants can do serious damage to a turtle egg. If you ever find a damaged nest or a turtle with a prominent yolk sac, you should call a rehabber for help ASAP. Never try to remove the egg sac.
Getting Out of the Nest
First, the turtle has to get out of the egg. Luckily, turtles come equipped with an egg tooth. But then the babies need to dig their way to the surface. If they make it out, they're often tired, dehydrated, and sometimes a long way from water. Before they find shelter, they run the risk of getting eaten or crushed. If they're late season hatchlings, it might be too cold for them to survive. If you find a healthy hatchling wandering around, take it to the nearest water source and choose a shallow spot with lots of places for a baby to hide. Make sure you're helping an aquatic turtle first, of course.
Turning Up in Unlikely Places
You can encounter turtle hatchlings in urban areas too, since parks with ponds often become dumping grounds for unwanted pets. In this case, the Common Snapping Turtle is native to NY, but he or she doesn't belong on the walking paths in Central Park. Hatchlings often wander into roads looking for water, so keep your eyes peeled! The turtles are counting on you to help them.