If you are a Nest Sitter and have protected a nest on your property which is hatching out, or someone who has found a nest that is hatching or a hatchling(s) on, here is how to help:
- Be patient: if you have caged a nest with a standard design protector (where exit holes are available), do not remove the nest cage once the turtles start to emerge. Racoons and other predators will readily find these little ones easy targets for consuming. Instead, monitor the nest daily to help the little ones that have emerged to water. It can take days for all the hatchlings to be ready.
- Never excavate or "help" hatchlings come out of the nest. It takes a few days for hatchlings at the bottom of the nest to be ready like their siblings that are emerging at this time. They are busy soaking up yolk sacks, and early "intervention" can actually harm the little ones. Also the cavity of the nest is the ideal shape and size for turtles to effectively climb out of the nest.
- Do not relocate: It is legal to help a species in distress, such as a hatchling to water- but only within 1km. Relocating or taking a turtle home is illegal and fines of up to $100,000.00 can apply. Therefore, if you have simply found a hatchling and/or you are helping the little hatchlings that have emerged from the nest, take them to the nearest source of natural water/an aquatic habitat that is closest to the nest site. You can put the little guys on the shore of the water or in the reedy edge so they can find shelter and food.
- Look around: Also if you found a hatchling on a road (a little moving rock with a tail), look around as the nest may be nearby and other hatchlings may need your help to get to nearest water safely. Turtle on!