See how a rainy day helped this turtle at Gorman Discovery Center in Kansas City hide her eggs

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A red-eared slider turtle prepares to lay eggs by digging a hole with her hind legs. Photo by Bill Graham, Missouri Department of Conservation

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Rain is just another form of wet for red-eared slider turtles, who spend their time in and out of water in ponds, sloughs, and rivers.

One advantage though is that rain softens the ground for digging a hole to bury eggs in.

The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) notes the turtles are a popular photo subject for wildlife watchers, but it’s an unusual treat if you spy them laying eggs.

A female slider at the Anita B. Gorman Discovery Center in Kansas City made a short, mid-day, egg-laying trek from the pond to some nearby shrubs on Friday, June 25.

The turtle and the eggs are vulnerable to predators at this time, so they quickly lay and bury the eggs. Photo by Bill Graham, Missouri Department of Conservation

According to MDC, the turtles use their strong back legs with webbed feet and claws to dig a hole. Female turtles lower their backsides over the hole, squeeze out the egg from an ovipositor, and then immediately use their hind legs to bury the egg. Then they repeat the process with the next egg. In late summer or early autumn, the hatched turtles will emerge and begin exploring.

“In Missouri, large females can lay up to 30 eggs,” said Jeff Briggler, MDC scientist and herpetologist. “They may lay the largest and most developed eggs in the clutch first. Then a week or two later they may lay and bury the remaining eggs in the clutch. Many hatched turtles won’t survive. But the red-eared slider is abundant because they can live and survive in many types of habitats, including human dominated places.”

MDC said visitors at the Discovery Center’s outdoor garden trails often snap photos of them sunbathing on logs or rock. But not often are eggs spotted. An hour after the Discovery Center turtle laid her eggs, the spot was completely level and covered with mulch. There were few visible signs that she had dug in that spot.

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