Have you ever wondered why turtles cross the road? There are a few reasons why these slow-pokes venture into the street, but no matter their agenda, we should be cautious of their presence while driving.
“Turtles often cross the road after rain events,” said J. Jill Heatley, associate professor at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences. “Additionally, many times they are female turtles seeking an appropriate place to lay their eggs.”
If you come across a turtle in the road while driving, the turtle may benefit from a helping hand to get to safety; however, Heatley said to be careful in doing so. “If you can pull safely off to the side of the road and traffic permits, you can safely move the turtle to the side of the road in the direction it was headed,” Heatley explained. “If the turtle is injured, you can also take the turtle to a rehabilitator or veterinarian for care.”
Even if traffic permits you to save a turtle’s life, you should be careful handling certain turtles for your own safety. Heatley said some turtles, such as the alligator and common snapping turtle, can injure a person by biting or jabbing at them with the rear of the shell.
“Only experienced individuals should handle these animals,” Heatley said. “But in the case of box turtles, soft-shelled turtles, and slider turtles, they may be safely handled by grabbing the rear of the shell while wearing lightweight gloves.”
If the turtle needs to be taken to a veterinarian, it can be placed in a cardboard box. Otherwise, Heatley said uninjured turtles should remain in the wild to live their lives and breed.
Though wild turtles may need our help every now and then, you should not risk your own life to save a turtle. If you do see a turtle crossing the road, drive cautiously and stop to help, if needed.
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Pet Talk is a service of the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, Texas A&M University.