Why does the turtle cross the road?
Photo: Eastern box turtle in the road
Photo credit: reclaimednj
Soon, our local turtles will be on the move and you can help if you see them in the road.
From mid spring through the summer, female turtles will look for a suitable place to lay their eggs within their territory. If you see one in the road or on the roadside, here are some important tips on how you can help.
• First, if you are driving, safely pull over to the side of the road and put your hazard blinkers on to alert other drivers.
• Pick up the turtle and move her IN THE SAME DIRECTION she is heading until she is safely on the other side.
• If this is a Snapping Turtle, pick the turtle up from the back part of her shell near the back legs. Their necks can extend about half the length of their body so keep your hands behind the back legs. If she is large, a car floor mat or blanket can be helpful. Pull her from the back of the shell backwards onto the mat and then pull the mat backwards across the road. Once you reach the other side, turn it around and head her in the same direction she was going. **Never pick any turtle up by the tail as this can cause spinal damage. **
• NEVER take the turtle away from her home to relocate her to a “safer” place! Turtles have a very specific territory and they will spend all of their time and energy trying to get back to their home.
**IF YOU WANT TO HELP A TURTLE CROSS A ROAD, HELP IT CROSS THE ROAD. PLEASE DO NOT MOVE IT TO A NEW LOCATION. **
Our friends at The Turtle’s Back have posted excellent info on how to help any turtle you may encounter.
Deborah Shiflett-Fitton is a Sierra Club member and part of our Wildlife Committee.