"I HAVE RECEIVED 4 CALLS THIS WEEK REGARDING SNAPPING TURTLES IN YARDS", began the all-caps Facebook post from a New York State Wildlife Rehabilitator. If you value your fingers and toes, watch out. Here's why so many snapping turtles are out of their natural habitat, and what you should do if you find one in your backyard.

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Snapping Turtles in the Hudson Valley, NY

Personally, I still have trouble believing these prehistoric-looking reptiles exist in the Hudson Valley, but according to experts, now is the time of year you're most likely to see one. These animals, which can live for decades, only leave the water for one reason, and all has to do with two other animals: the birds and the bees.

Alligator snapping turtle
rustyfox
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Snapping Turtle Egg Laying in New York

No, it's not bumping-uglies time; May and June is primary egg-laying season for these behemoths in the Hudson Valley. Snapping turtles spend almost their entire lives in the water, leaving only to find a suitable place to lay their eggs, sometimes travelling up to a literal mile to find the perfect spot. So if you're seeing a chomp-hungry turtle in your back yard, they are most likely browsing for a suitable place to leave their future progeny. So what should you spot one in your yard?

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thomasmales
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Snapping Turtle Safety

Step 1: keep your distance. Snapping turtles (obviously) have their name for a very specific reason. To quote our earlier all-caps Facebook poster: "JUST LEAVE THEM BE AND THEY WILL MOVE ON. CAUTION. THEY DO GIVE A NASTY BITE. KEEP CHILDREN AND PETS AWAY FROM THEM". If you believe the turtle is in distress or is in a dangerous area, there are specific authorities you can contact to do the heavy (and potentially dangerous) lifting for you.

tillsonburgh/Canva
tillsonburgh/Canva
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Wildlife Rehabilitators in the Hudson Valley, NY

This very helpful website from the New York Department of Environmental Conservation helps you find the exact wildlife rehabilitator you need for any animal you may need to relocate, from fluffy rabbits all the way to our hero, the snapping turtle. That being said, if you see a bunny and a turtle together, you may want to leave them be as they're most likely gearing up for a race.

Want more nature? Check out these adorable baby beavers that were rescued upstate!

Rescued Adirondack Baby Beavers Bring Cuteness Overload

A litter of 5 baby beavers, called 'kits,' were recently rescued in Lake George.

Hudson Valley Otter Makes Big Splash on Facebook

A Day in the Life of an Otter