If the female turtle makes it to her nesting site and successfully deposits her eggs, her offspring only have a 1% chance of surviving to breeding age. Odds are that each turtle must nest for several years (or even decades!) before it replaces itself.
Raccoon populations are 20 times greater than they were earlier this century. Raccoons and healthy population of skunks, crows, gulls and other predators, dig up most nests and eat the eggs. If you find a nest which has been disturbed by a predator carefully place the eggs back in the hole and bury them.
For more information on what to do about turtles or nests on your property read our Nest Protection section.
Do not dig up or move turtle nests or attempt to incubate the eggs yourself. You may damage the eggs and it is illegal to take wildlife into captivity or disturb the nests of endangered or threatened species. Do not cover the nests – the eggs are incubated by the warmth of the sun and shading the nest may slow or stop development. Placing an object over the nest to keep predators out can also trap babies inside.
If a turtle has nested in your garden or driveway keep an eye out for hatchlings from late August until snow and then again in spring the next year. Incubation periods vary between 60 to 90 days depending on the weather in a given year. In a warm year the eggs develop faster and the young may hatch and emerge as early as mid August. In a cooler year they may hatch later in the fall. Painted turtles that hatch late in the fall may stay underground the entire winter and not emerge until the following spring.