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Tilipe the Turtle returns to neighbours’ delight

A snapping turtle has returned to a northeast London, Ont. subdivision to the delight of residents.

For 15 years, the turtle has found her way to the same street to lay her eggs. She has become such a sensation, she now shares the street’s name.

“Her name now is Tilipe Turtle,” said Rob McCullough, who has lived in the area of Tilipe Road for 40 years.

McCullough was the first to notice Tilipe this season while walking his dog on Sunday, where she had just started to dig a nest.

“She’ll dig a hole maybe about two feet deep and lay 40 to 60 eggs," he explained to CTV News London.

Tilipe the Turtle lays her eggs on Tilipe Road in London, Ont. on June 11, 2023. (Source: Submitted)

As word spread, Tilipe had arrived and neighbours arrived to help protect her.

“Somebody keeps an eye on her,” explained Josh Poytner, who lives directly in front of the turtle nest.

Over the 15 years, Tilipe has been laying eggs in approximately the same spot. However, like all snapping turtle mothers-to-be, she also digs decoy holes to evade predators.

Poynter said one such occasion was the first time he met her.

“It was a pretty kind of weird thing. She was digging a hole right at our front step there. They dig a few fake holes at first and the real hole somewhere else, and the real hole ended up being out here,” he said.

Josh Poynter and Rob McCullough are seen near the nest of Tilipe the Turtle in London, Ont. (Sean Irvine/CTV News London)

After laying her eggs and covering them up for this year, Tilipe made her way down the street where dozens gathered to watch.

“We have a lady, Diane. We call her the ‘turtle lady.’ She is very much interested when the turtle comes, and it’s a huge deal for her.”

Poynter says Tilipe’s march — at turtle speed down the road — takes time.

“Somebody keeps an eye on her. We use a traffic cone to make sure nobody runs her over on the street. She can get really tired and just lays on the street for an hour or sometimes,” he said.

Eventually, Tilipe makes her way off the street and into a nearby creek. From there, she follows its bank to her home in a marshy pond.

Members of the Upper Thames Region Conservation Authority examine Tilipe's eggs during a June 2022 collection. (Source: Submitted)

Back on Tilipe, McCullough protects the eggs and calls the Upper Thames Region Conservation Authority (UTRCA).

Within a few days, a team arrives to collect Tilipe’s eggs.

McCullough said they report back how many were viable. The eggs are then distributed to other pond sites ensuring Tilipe’s offspring continue her legacy.

It is a legacy that also benefits her human friends.

“It really brings people together, more than anything else honestly. They really come together for the wildlife” Poynter said. 

Members of the Upper Thames Region Conservation Authority examine Tilipe's eggs during a June 2022 collection. (Source: Submitted) Top Stories

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