It’s turtle breeding season, and yesterday I helped this female red-eared slider (Trachemys scripta elegans) across the road. Many turtles and tortoises will be crossing roadways to breed and lay eggs, and it’s important to know what to do if you encounter one that’s in a dangerous area. If you need to pick one up, grasp it firmly behind the front legs and carry it as low to the ground as you can. Turtles can be surprisingly strong and mobile, covered in mud, and may kick at you with their claws, so if you lose your grip, you do not want them to fall very far. For very large or potentially dangerous species like snapping turtles, you are better off escorting them across the road rather than trying to handle them. (Do NOT pick them up by their rear legs or tails!)
Only carry animals as far as absolutely necessary to get them out of the road and over the curb or other obstacles, and carry them in the direction they were heading when you spotted them. They know where they want to go, so if you turn them around they will likely go right back into the road. Do NOT relocate them. While you might think that pond 10 miles away would be turtle heaven, relocation is extremely stressful and puts them in danger as they will have to rediscover food sources and shelter and compete with existing animals. Females are especially vulnerable as they are already taxed by egg-laying. If you find an injured turtle or genuinely believe the animal would be in danger if you left it where it was, contact a local wildlife rescue or licensed rehabilitator and ask for their advice. Though it may be tempting, don’t handle or linger around the animal more than necessary. Finally, remember to wash your hands, because salmonella is no fun!
IMPORTANT!! Please read This wonderful post.
While our goal is to help turtles and tortoises, it’s important we do it in the right way! Our best intentions can cause harm for the shell!
- Always move the turtle or tort in the direction its heading
- Never pick them up by the back legs or tail
- Cary them low to the ground in case they wiggle free
- NEVER relocate a turtle or tortoise. Only take them as far as needed to get them out of immediate danger.
Pass it on!
Remember! Saving one turtle or tortoise can mean saving the life of a decade of hatchlings to come!