What Are You Doing?

During one of my recent kayak outings, I was surprised one morning, just as the sun was about to rise, to find a raccoon (Procyon lotor) scrounging around and digging into a Beaver (Castor canadensis) lodge. This is a new beaver lodge, one that was being built last fall. As with most of the lodges in my area, this lodge was built on the bank of one of the pond’s many islands, with underwater entrances dug out in at least 2 places along the bank (one on each side of the island).

Beaver digging into a Beaver lodge

I wasn’t really sure what he was looking for … surely he wasn’t looking for a confrontation with one of the adult beavers! the adult beavers are at least as big as this raccoon, maybe a bit larger. After the raccoon left the area, I paddled around the large pond and it’s many islands. While I was photographing a pair of hard-at-work muskrats (Ondatra zibethicus), I observed a rather large Common Snapping Turtle (Chelydra serpentina) climbing out of the water and into the dense grass. A while later, as I continued to photograph the muskrats, I again heard some rustling noise from the bank. I looked up and saw the snapping turtle crawling back into the water. I quickly snapped off a shot just as he entered the pond:

Common Snapping Turtle entering the water 

Towards the end of my kayaking, I pulled beside a second Beaver lodge in this pond (I know of 2 active lodges here). As I pulled close to it, I looked up and this is what I saw:

Broken turtle eggs on a beaver lodge

Ah-ha, I now knew what the raccoon was doing earlier in the day! Seems that some of the pond’s turtles are using the beaver lodges to dig their nests and lay eggs in … makes sense, the dirt of the lodges must be easier to dig into than the pond’s banks with grass/weeds growing. Also makes sense that the raccoons can find an easy meal at the beaver lodges!

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