Nest surveys

Image:Nesting WPT, Beaver Ponds.jpg

The availability of suitable nesting habitats often constrains the distribution of freshwater turtles, including the Western Painted Turtle. In many areas, nesting sites appear to be in short supply for the Pacific Coast Population because of dense forest cover and paucity of suitable sandy soils. It is important to identify nesting areas in the vicinity of water bodies occupied by the turtles, so that they can be protected from development and disturbance.

To survey for nesting areas, look for sites with the following features:

- open areas close to an occupied water body, usually within 150 m[1]

- warm, southern exposure

- exposed soil with little or no vegetation

- sandy or loamy substrate


On Vancouver Island, natural nesting habitats include patches of deeper soil on rocky bluffs bordering wetlands. Turtle nesting areas have also been found along sides of gravel roads and driveways, in old gravel pits, gravel parking lots, and along abandoned logging roads.

Examine sites deemed suitable for evidence of turtle nesting activity. This evidence may consist of the following: - exit holes through which hatchlings have emerged from nests (in spring) - test holes dug by nesting females (from early spring to mid-summer) - recently completed nests identified by a circular patch of flattened ground and/or a wet spot (from early spring to mid-summer) - adult females digging or laying eggs (from early spring to mid-summer)

  1. Bodie J.R. 2001. Stream and riparian management for freshwater turtles. Journal of Environmental Management 62:443–455.