Broken Shell, Broken Heart

Every May I look forward to seeing snapping turtles laying their eggs on the edge of the Mount Vernon Trail. Snappers are big. Their shells are about the size of a dinner plate. If you get you fingers near their mouths, you won’t have them for long.

Last week I saw a baby snapping turtle. It looked just like an adult but its shell was only about as big as a 50 cent piece.

Today, I saw an adult snapper next to the trail. It didn’t register in my mind until I had ridden past it. I stopped and walked back only to see something horrible. The turtle was alive but in obvious distress, it’s shell cracked just behind its head. I have no idea how this happened but my guess is that it was run over by a car.


I was relieved to see that it was gone when I rode past this evening.

About an hour later, my daughter and I were driving to dinner in Old Town. About a half mile from where I saw this turtle, I saw another one at the edge of the George Washington Memorial Parkway. It had been run over and looked like it was dead.

I really wanted to see some snapper turtles this spring. Now I am not so sure.

6 thoughts on “Broken Shell, Broken Heart

  1. In this “rush, rush” world, taking your time can actually maim or kill you. You’ve got proof.

  2. While I think automobile is by far the most likely, I wouldn’t rule out of some of your raptor friends. I’ve seen eagles and hawks pick up all sort of animals along the trail and then seemingly drop them.

  3. I grew up on a lake in MI–I love snappers. When our neighbor would fish on his dock, a HUGE snapper would come up and hang out under the water. It patiently waited until my neighbor caught a fish. They he’d pop his head out of the water, and wait for my neighbor to drop the fish into his open mouth. Smart turtle.

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