This is unfortunately a common story for the common snapping turtle.
Your mom selected a sunny spot in sandy soil to deposit the eggs that contained you and your siblings. She carefully covered the hole she'd dug and disguised her activities as well as she could. In spite of the raccoons, opossums and other nest raiders, you manage to survive that defenseless period only to enter into the next vulnerable stage. As a hatchling snapper, you disperse with your siblings to a pond. Once there, you have to evade the bullfrogs, herons, water snakes, large fish and other predators; most of your siblings do not survive. As one of the lucky few that do, you start to attain some size and attitude.
Even as you become less vulnerable to predators, life has other challenges. You still have to survive bitter winters trapped under frozen sheets of water, the assault of parasites on your body and the need to find enough food. Still, you manage to survive for years and finally reach maturity.
Then the urges take hold. You're driven from the relative safety of your watery home into the greater world to seek out a mate, or to lay the clutch of eggs that fills your belly. Movement on land is slow and difficult for you, but the journey is necessary for the survival of your kind. It's an annual ritual that your species has under taken for millions of years.
Only times have changed. You start to cross this strange hard surface on your journey. You're feeling exposed. You see this strange noisy object approaching at a speed unimaginable for someone only capable of movement at a slow, measured pace. The shell that has protected you from all manner of natural enemy yields to this metallic beast and your fearsome bite is of no use.
Tarmac was lucky. He survived the encounter with the vehicle, was found by a caring individual and was taken to Animal Kingdom Veterinary Hospital. The veterinarians were able to piece his shell back together and secure it with epoxy resin. After a few months of care at The Creature Conservancy, his wounds completely healed and are now barely discernible.
Our goal in telling you this story is not to make you feel guilty for the success of our species, but to remind you that we need to save space for the other species with which we share this planet.
Because Tarmac is less aggressive than the average snapper, we decided to incorporate him into our educational programs. His position as an animal ambassador at The Creature Conservancy helps us teach others about this unique and interesting native species.
(Click on the photos to enlarge.)