HOW TO MAKE A TURTLE NEST PROTECTOR
The following are instructions for constructing the wood frame turtle nest protector Think Turtle Conservation Initiative has successfully used for a number of years to deter predators and protect many nests. If you substitute materials or make changes to the methods of construction outlined please keep the general principles of a turtle nest protector in mind.
(A) Use lumber that is untreated and unpainted.
(B) Cut '2 to 4' openings in the wood frame for the hatchlings to freely exit the nest protector. This is a 'requirement' as specified by the Ministry of Natural Resources & Forestry and the Ministry of Environment, Conservation & Parks.
(C) Make the nest protector frame larger then the size of the nest to maximize protection. We recommend a nest protector that is 27" x 27".
(D) Anchor the nest protector securely to the ground to prevent predators from gaining access to the nest during the incubation period. If spikes cannot be used to anchor the nest protector each 'corner' of the nest protector can be weighed down using heavy rocks.
TOOLS & EQUIPMENT
Power Saw (of your choice for cutting the lumber)
Jigsaw (for cutting exit holes for hatchlings)
Drill (cordless or electric)
Drill bit (recommended for making pilot holes if you choose to)
Screw bits (size/type for the screws you are using)
Measuring tape, Carpenters pencil, Square
Screwdriver (size/type to match screws, we used Robertson)
Work Gloves (for handling hardware cloth/wire mesh)
Ear Plugs (when using machinery)
You will need the following items to build one nest protector.
2" x 4" x 104" Lumber (Untreated/unpainted)
Hardware cloth/wire mesh (23 gauge with 1/4” hole openings)
2-1/2” Stainless steel wood screws x 8
1-3/4” Stainless steel wood screws x 12
12” Galvanized spiral nails/spikes x 4
Optional: You can staple the wire mesh to the top of the wood frame if you prefer. In which case, you will need a staple gun and staples.
Note: As the nest protector will be used outdoors we highly recommend stainless steel screws and galvanized spikes to avoid rusting.
NEST PROTECTOR ASSEMBLY
(1) From the 2”x 4” x 104" lumber cut two pieces 24" and two pieces 27." One turtle nest protector can be constructed from one 2" x 4" x 104" with minimal waste.
(2) Using a jigsaw cut two half circle exit holes. Each one should be 2" high and 4 -1/2" wide. Cut the 1st half circle in one of the 24" pieces of cut lumber and the 2nd half circle in one of the 27" pieces of cut lumber. Each nest protector is required to have at least two cut out holes for the hatchlings to exit the nest protector. Please use safety goggles and ear plugs.
(3) Drill two holes in each 27" piece of cut lumber. The 1st hole should be drilled 3" in from the end and through the 4" dimension. The 2nd hole should be
drilled 3" in from the other end and through the 4" dimension.. These are the holes the 12" spikes will be hammered through to anchor the nest protector to the ground.
(4) Assemble the wood frame using 2-1/2" wood screws.
(5) Cut the wire mesh (hardware cloth) to fit the assembled wood frame. Note: We cut the wire mesh 1" to 1-1/2" larger then the dimensions of the wood frame so the wire mesh edges can be folded over for a tidy and safe edge and provide extra reinforcement when screwed on to the top of the wooden fame.
(6) Place the wire mesh over the top of the assembled wood frame and fasten
it in place using 1-3/4" wood screws fitted with a 3/16" fender washer.
Be sure to look at the construction tip photos below as well as notes regarding hardware cloth gauge and chicken coop wire..
Checkout our 'How To Make A Nest Protector' post on our Wordpress Blog for a helpful photo and materials list.
If you have any questions about nest protectors or other turtle related matters please contact Think Turtle Conservation Initiative at 647-606-9537, e-mail email@example.com or send a message through Facebook thinkturtleci.
Thank you for helping protect the Turtles and contributing to species recovery efforts in Ontario.
Checkout our Wordpress Blog for this graphic and materials list.
WIRE MESH NOTES
We use 23 gauge hardware cloth (wire mesh) with 1/4” hole openings for the nest protectors we construct, sell, lend out and/or install. Another wire mesh option is 19 gauge with 1/2” hole openings. Either gauge can be used with each having slightly different attributes to consider.
1/4" (23 gauge) - In areas turtles are more inclined to nest in soil with zero to minimal vegetation wire mesh with 1/4" openings is a good choice and may offer the nest the tiniest bit of shade during the hot dry summer months a nest with very little if any vegetation may benefit from. e.g. road shoulders behind guardrails, beaches, sandy areas in parks, etc.
1/2" (19 gauge) - In areas turtles are more inclined to nest in soil with moderate to dense vegetation wire mesh with 1/2" openings is a good choice and will allow vegetation to grow through the openings during the hot summer months. e.g. lawns, road shoulders behind guardrails, fields, etc.
Most important is to use a wire mesh that predators are not able to gain access to the nest and/or it acts as a hindrance putting predators off pursuing attempts to get to the nest.. In the end using either gauge versus not using a nest protector at all is the best chance there is of saving nest from predation especially during the first 10 to 21 days when a turtle nest is most vulnerable to predators..
CHICKEN COOP WIRE
We 'do not' recommend using chicken coop wire for turtle nest protectors. Although a useful wire product the openings are big enough that snakes, mice, rats and other small predators can access them and get to turtles eggs.
Using chicken coop wire without meaning to can leave a turtle nest vulnerable to predators. (1) Any mammalian predators can chew/rip through chicken coop wire. (2) In addition to this raccoons, foxes, coyotes, skunks, wolves, opossums and determined birds can access the nest enough through the larger wire openings enough to access some of the eggs near the top of the nest causing damage to at least some of the eggs. (3) With chicken coop wire being very pliable even if a raccoon that doesn't get to the eggs they could cause enough damage to leave the nest vulnerable to other predators. (4) If the chicken coop wire is not secured tight enough a raccoon could pull the wire back enough so they have full access to the turtle eggs and a meal. (5) Even dogs and cats have been known to make attempts to access nest protectors each for their own reasons not necessarily to go after eggs. Curiosity is in itself enough to prompt such activities and cause damage to the turtle eggs.
Help protect turtle nests from predators by using a nest protector!