How to Safely Help Turtles Off the Road
At Swank Early Skills Development, we love turtles (please see ‘About the Turtle’). Turtles often need to cross roads to get to water sources and to lay their eggs in specific areas. This can often be dangerous for them, but we can help. Did you know there is a special way to safely help turtles off the road?
1. Safety Comes First
Stopping to help turtles off the road is a good thing, but it can become dangerous for you and others if you do not take precautions. If you are driving, put on your hazard lights before you slow down and pull over. This gives other drivers a warning and can help prevent a traffic accident as you stop.
2. Know How to Handle Turtles
First and foremost, never pick up a turtle by its tail! A turtle’s spine extends through its tail. If you pick up a turtle by its tail, you can dislocate joints, cause other damage, and seriously injure it.
Snapping turtles can have a long reach and may react defensively. If your hands are at the mid-point of their bodies, you may be within their biting range.
If the turtle is a snapper, you want to approach it from behind, grasp it at the rear edges of its shell with two hands, and pick it up with its head down, away from your body.
Or you can use your grip to spin around with it and pull it backward in the direction it needs to go. Once you get it across the road, then you can spin it back in the direction it needs to go, release it, and back away quickly.
Turtles Might Pee When You Pick Them Up
Avoid Excessive Handling
3. Maintain the Direction of Travel
Take Them to Where They Are Trying to Go
When you stop to help a turtle in the road or one that is sitting by the road, it may be tempting to just put them back where they came from. But, this is usually a mistake. If a turtle is attempting to cross the road and you put them back where they started, they will just attempt to cross the road again to try to get to where they were going.
If They Are Walking Parallel to the Road Find the Nearest Water Source
If a turtle is walking parallel to the road and not across it, the best approach is to take a look at the direction they are headed and figure out the water source. This is likely their destination and you can help them get away from the road and in the direction of that water.
If you can’t take them all the way to the water source, placing them several feet away from the road and directed towards the water source is usually enough to help them get there safely.