Recently this large, female Snapping Turtle came walking up the hill next to our house, looking for a spot to lay her eggs. There was something both frightening and fascinating about this large reptile. We just observed and respected her from a distance and let her go about her mission.
Snappers are widespread in the eastern three-quarters of the country and live in ponds, lakes, and marshes. They're especially fond of water where there is a soft mud bottom and lots of submerged and emergent plants. In April to June, female snappers leave their ponds and travel to areas such as shorelines, gravel banks, railroad tracks, etc. to lay eggs. They may dig several false nests, possibly to confuse predators, before digging the real nest. Most nests, sometimes 100% in a year, will be dug up by predators like skunks, foxes, raccoons and mink. You can see the evidence as a hole in the ground surrounded by the shriveled, leathery, white egg-shells. So, sometimes it ain't easy being a Snapping Turtle.
If they survive, the young snappers hatch in 3-4 months and make their way back to the pond. Snappping Turtles can live at least 47 years. For more info. see Stokes Field Guide To Amphibians and Reptiles, written by Tom Tyning.