A snapping turtle climbs a fence a Groton resident recently installed to keep foxes away from her chicken. photo/Leigh Ann Colvin Sun staff photos can be
A snapping turtle climbs a fence a Groton resident recently installed to keep foxes away from her chicken. photo/Leigh Ann Colvin

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GROTON -- Snapping turtles are excellent climbers.

It's a fact that Leigh Ann Colvin was stunned to discover on a recent afternoon when her neighbor called her name to draw her attention to a fence.

An adult-sized snapping turtle had already reached the top of the 5-foot-high fence in the neighbor's yard when she and her 11-year-old triplet daughters got there, Colvin said. As they watched in awe, the turtle flexed its muscles, grabbing onto the chicken wires with its four limbs and claws. It put its nose in one area of the wires and moved from left to right, she said.

"It moves very, very slowly, but it's very strong," Colvin said. "It's such a dinosaur."

This was no Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle.

Fence-climbing snappers have been sighted across the country. There are even reports of them climbing stairs.

For Colvin and her neighbor on Bennett Street, near the Pepperell line, the turtle's acrobatic performance came as a total shock. Living close to the Nashua River, their yards are a place for many wildlife discoveries, Colvin said. Still, this was their first time seeing a snapping turtle climb over a fence.

Her neighbor, who is a biologist, saw another smaller snapping turtle climb over the same area of the fence the next day, and wondered if the first one left some sort of scent there, said Colvin, who works as the director of a food association. It is unclear where the snapping turtles were headed, though there is a duck pond on the other side of the fence, Colvin said.

"There is no doubt this is how they survived for thousands of years," Colvin said of snapping turtles' climbing skills.

Follow Hiroko Sato on Twitter @satolowellsun.