5 Easy Steps to Help a Turtle Cross the Road
Here at Reptiles Alive, we often get asked about how to help turtles that are in the middle of a road. Although this may seem like a simple question, let’s break the answer down to 5 easy steps.
- Determine how SAFE the road is for YOU to be in it! Seriously, do not risk your life or the lives of other drivers by going into the middle of a busy highway. If the road is safe enough for you to pull over and/or walk into the road, then…
- Look at the DIRECTION the turtle is walking. This is where the turtle wants to go. Turtles have a mind of their own and they know their own area or territory. The turtle has a reason for crossing the road, we’re just going to help it along.
- Pick the turtle up CAREFULLY. Keep fingers and body parts away from the turtle’s head (they can bite) and support the turtle using both hands to pick up from the top and support underneath. Please note, if the turtle is large or you think it is a snapping turtle, do not attempt to handle the turtle. Either use a shovel or broom to “encourage” the turtle to move across the road or call the animal control department of the county you are in.
- Walk the turtle IN THE DIRECTION IT WAS HEADED to the other side of the road above any curb and gently set it down.
- Say buh-bye to the turtle and then WASH YOUR HANDS. All animals, including turtles, can have bacteria on their skin that on occasion can cause illness in humans.
Now let’s talk about what NOT to do.
- Do not relocate the turtle to another area. Turtles have territories where they know where the water sources, food sources, and hibernation sites are located. If you move the turtle to another location it may not survive because of dehydration, starvation, or hypothermia.
- Do not relocate the turtle to another area. New, emerging diseases are being found in certain turtle populations in North America and if you move a turtle, you may spread diseases which can kill other turtles.
- Do not relocate the turtle to your home. Although adorable, turtles are wild animals. They have very special captive care requirements and most do not survive being kept as a pet. Those that do survive captivity can live 80 or more years! And if you get tired of caring for your turtle pet (who won’t snuggle or play Frisbee with you) you cannot release it back to wild because – SEE ABOVE.
- Do not relocate the turtle to your home. Turtle populations are in trouble. Because turtles have such a slow reproductive rate, every adult turtle in a population counts. By removing a turtle, you could be damaging an entire turtle population.