NORTH CENTER — Neighbors were delighted by baby snapping turtles hatching Thursday afternoon along the Chicago River in North Center.
At the end of June, female snapping turtles laid clutches of eggs along the shore of the nature trail at Riverbank Neighbors Park, just east of Horner Park.
“There were like three or four nests right here and they all just started hatching around 2:30 p.m. [Thursday]. Dozens of them just started heading to the stream,” said Brian Holdampf, who lives near the river.
Holdampf and his wife were at home when they heard a family passing by and reacting to seeing the turtles hatching. The couple rushed outside to take photos of the hatchlings.
“Eventually there were like 30 people who watched,” Holdampf said. “Since June, everyone has been really careful and cautious of the nests. Someone even put out fencing to protect them.
“We’ve been very careful, protective and very curious about the nests. Lots of people checking in on them every day.”
Snapping turtles are native to the Great Lakes region and often are found hanging out on the soft, muddy bottoms of the Chicago River system, according to the Shedd Aquarium.
They aren’t fussy about what they eat and sometimes ambush fish or aquatic birds and scavenge for carrion and aquatic vegetation, according to the aquarium.
They’re also pretty hardy and can persist in pollution, adapt to marinas and marshes and even move around under the ice during Chicago’s frigid winters.
Video of the turtles hatching:
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