Amphibians, like frogs, toads and salamanders, lay eggs in the water. The eggs will hatch into tadpoles for frogs and toads, salamander larva if salamanders. Amphibians don’t need parental help, the parents lay the eggs and leave.
Tadpoles and larva should only be moved if they are in a spot where they are in danger, like on a pool cover that needs to be removed. Then, you can use a waterproof container to collect them all and move them to a nearby pond or other place with water, near the edge of the bank.
Turtle and snake babies don’t need parental care, their parents lay the eggs and leave, and when the babies hatch, they are on their own.
Turtle eggs are usually laid in June, and if they survive, they’ll hatch in August or early September. If you find a turtle nest, a shallow area with white eggs loosely covered in sand or dirt, don’t go near and don’t touch! If you go up to the nest and touch the eggs, you will do two bad things: attract egg-eating raccoons to the nest with your scent, and cause the eggs to not hatch if they are moved in the wrong way and will never develop into babies.
If the nest is in an area where it may be disturbed accidentally, like near a road or path, or if you’re worried about raccoons getting to the eggs, you can put fencing around and over the nest with holes that are big enough for the babies to get out, but predators can’t come in, or watch to see when the babies hatch, and move the fence.
If you see a turtle crossing the road, you can pull off to the side of the road and carefully move the turtle away from the road. Be careful, some turtles, like Snapping turtles, can and will try to bite, and they have long necks that can reach around their sides.
Baby turtles you find out in the wild should never become pets. Not only is it illegal to possess wildlife without the proper permits, but when you take turtles from the wild, you hurt their already fragile population. Only Snapping turtles and Painted turtles are doing ok in Michigan right now, with the other species not doing as well, and we may lose some of our turtle species in as soon as 50 years. Turtles can also carry Salmonella, bacteria that can make people very sick, and can even be fatal for small children.
Young snakes should not be taken from the wild either. Some snakes can be tamed down very easily, which makes them easy prey for dogs and cats as well as natural predators. Some snakes are very aggressive, especially at a young age, and can be vicious biters. There are snakes in Michigan that are facing hard times like our turtles.
If you want a reptile or amphibian as a pet, please research the housing and feeding requirements for that species before purchasing one at a pet store. Many need special lighting and heating, and can live for many years.