Spring has finally arrived and warming temperatures awake hibernating turtles to do what they have done for 200 million years. Look for them, on sunny wetland logs, basking to warm their reptilian, cold-blooded bodies.
Between now (nesting season) and mid October (baby turtle hatchling emergence), turtles will move slowly, over great distances, between their varied habitats. This means many will be on our roadways!
From early May through June, female turtles will travel far to nesting sites, chosen for their sunny exposures and disturbed soil, easy to dig for laying their eggs. This often leads to crossing roads and even nesting on the road shoulders (radiating heat from asphalt helps to warm nests). Female turtles must be at least 10 years of age to reproduce and those are the few 3 percent of all turtles that ever make it to adulthood. Predation of nests, hatchlings and adult turtles, along with human activity and development, are critically endangering the survival of earth’s ancient turtle species.
What can we do to help?
Slow down and be observant when driving through wetland areas.
What if I find a turtle on the road?
If you choose to help, put on your flashers and pull over. Make sure of your own and others’ safety first! Gently pick the turtle up (excluding large Snapping turtles), holding it behind its front legs, with both hands. Always move the turtle the direction it was traveling, as it has strong homing instincts and will cross the road again if placed on the wrong side. Carry it gently, low to the ground. NEVER hold a turtle by its tail. Its spinal column is part of its shell and fatal damage may occur. Snappers may be gently moved with a snow shovel. Otherwise try to protect it while it crosses by alerting other drivers — only if you can do so safely!
What if I find an injured turtle?
Turtles have exceptional healing powers and wills to survive. Cracked shells and wounds can mend, while eggs may be incubated. Remove from road and place in a box to have it picked up or contact Groton Turtle Conservation and Rescue at 339-221-4261.
Together, we CAN make a difference for remarkable, ancient turtles!
Groton Turtle Conservation and Rescue