JAMESTOWN, N.D. – Earlier this summer, Betty Kratzke noticed that something was disturbing the ground near the flowers that line her driveway. Solving the mystery this week proved to be a snap — when baby snapping turtles started crawling around her yard.
"They just keep popping up out of the hole," said Cliff Hanson, Kratzke's brother-in-law.
The turtles had recently hatched and were no bigger than a half dollar coin, said Darrell Perry, another brother-in-law.
Family members scooped up 44 turtles in all. They were put in a cardboard box and taken to the nearby James River.
"They went swimming away like crazy," Kratzke said.
Snapping turtles live to be decades old and can grow up to 40 pounds, said Gene Van Eeckhout, a biologist with the North Dakota Game and Fish Department. They do not make nice pets, he said.
"They're not very friendly to play with," Van Eeckhout said.
Kratzke said she thought some sort of animal was disturbing her flowers. "But it was a long ways from being a muskrat or a raccoon," she said. "They are the cutest little things."
Perry said the experience was one to remember.
"While they were coming out, we just stood there and watched them in amazement," he said.