Here in Michigan, turtles can be seen crossing the roads in the spring and summer. These turtles are on a mission: to find a mate, to find nesting grounds, to find a place to hibernate. Turtles are amazing and ancient creatures. Sixteen states have at least one turtle species as a state symbol, and Florida has two! This obviously means we should be saving turtles, not squishing them.
So, how do you save a turtle? To put it simply, very carefully. It’s important that if you see a turtle on the road that you take precautions for your own safety. Don’t put yourself in danger to rescue a turtle! This means pulling into a driveway or pulling completely off of the road to rescue the turtle.
When moving a turtle off the road, be sure to move it in the direction it was headed. It might be tempting to turn the turtle around and take it to the closer side of the road, but that risks the turtle trying to cross the road again. Also, don’t try to relocate it. Turtles have a home range and might try to return home if you relocate them.
When picking up the turtle to move it, grab it firmly on either side of the shell behind the front legs. Don’t pick it up too high off the ground just in case it falls. Even small turtles can be surprisingly strong when they want to escape and they can have very long, sharp nails. Don’t pick up turtles by their tails or legs because this could hurt them.
Snapping turtles are a little more complicated. They have long tails, sharp claws and a mean bite. Don’t pick them up by their tails! If you have a something like a snow-shovel, use it to gently lift the turtle and scoot it off the road.
When I drive anywhere I make sure that my passenger understands the drill: if there is a turtle in the road, they are expected to help it cross the road. Please do your part to save the turtles on the road and encourage others to do the same!