If You See A Turtle Crossing The Road, Stop And Follow These Life-Saving Instructions!
Imagine you’re driving home and see something on the road out of the corner of your eye: a turtle! While many people would rather leave wildlife alone, intervening with a lone turtle could save a life. Turtles often face long, perilous journeys when they cross busy streets and roadways, and many of them die this time of year in car accidents.
“We are literally smack-dab in the middle of what we call the turtle season around here,” Natasha Nowick, founder of New England-based Turtle Rescue League, told The Dodo. “It roughly centers around the nesting season where they are coming out of the water and leaving their typical habitat and looking for areas that are bright, sunny and often on hills where they can bury their eggs for incubation.”
The turtles’ impulse to nest is so strong, in fact, they will often charge ahead across yards and streets with little thought to people around them. But Natasha encourages anyone who spots them to move quickly, pick them up, and gently place them on the other side of the street. They likely won’t even notice that it happened if you’re fast enough!
It’s also important not to take these wild turtles home with you as pets, tempting though it may be. Many may appear docile as they are in an egg-bearing phase. Nesting turtles need a little help getting to safety, not separation from their natural environments.
According to Natasha, the easiest way to help a crossing turtle is to playing “cross guard” and hold back other cars on the street until the turtle has safely completed its journey. You could also pick the turtle up and carry it to the other side of the road, but it’s important that you get the turtle to the correct side.
“Always help a turtle cross the road by placing it on the other side of the street in the direction it was heading,” Julie Maguire of Turtle Rescue of Long Island told The Dodo.
“If the turtle has a crack in the shell, do not place [him] in water. If there’s a puncture in the lung, the turtle can drown, so best to just put any injured turtle found in a small box just a bit larger than the turtle, lined with paper towels or newspaper. Close the lid and keep in a quiet place until help is found.”
“If a turtle is found with an injury and you can’t find a rehabber to take the turtle right away, there are many vets that will treat wildlife without charge,” she added. “Just be sure to give them the location of where the turtle was found so it can be released to the same area.”
Like with any wild animal, use caution and care, especially around snapping turtles. “In the case of snapping turtles, never, ever pick [one] up by the tail,” Julie warned. “This can break their spine causing terrible injury.” If you do suspect that a snapping turtle is injured, take it to your local wildlife rehabilitation center. And please, don’t fear the snaps! The turtles mainly use them to deter predators and are mostly harmless.
This little guy we got in the other day is still having difficulty with his legs, but at least he's beginning to open…
“Snapping turtles are one of the most misunderstood turtles,” said Julie. “Anyone who gets to work with them finds out that, of all the turtles, they are the biggest babies. Use caution by grabbing by the back of the shell and placing on a car mat or other object it can be dragged on if it’s too large to pick up.”
“They have no desire to connect with you because that means they are connecting with a much larger animal and they will be stuck with you for a while,” she added. “Snapping turtles themselves will only eat their body weight once in an entire year. For an adult snapping turtle, over 80 percent of the diet is vegetative matter. And its entire weight will only be consumed once a year.”
Way to go Officer Samet of NYPD ~ Queens! Thanks for saving that Snapping turtle!
So be on the look-out for these beautiful creatures during your drives, and lend a hand when you spot one struggling to get home!
Teachers and students started calling the police "turtle cops" after this save!
(H/T: The Dodo)