Be on the lookout for turtles crossing the road!
The months of April, May, and June are nesting seasons for many turtles. Female aquatic turtles leave the water to find terrestrial nesting sites, and this often requires crossing a road.
Helping a turtle move across the road can be the difference between life and death for the animal, and even for future generations when considering gravid (egg-bearing) females.
However, assisting a turtle should be done ONLY WHEN IT IS SAFE to stop, pull over to the shoulder (if you are driving), and move the turtle across the road. Do not attempt to stop traffic; your safety comes first.
Snapping turtles can be large, heavy, and feisty, so if you are unable to “shoo” them across the road, pick them up by the back of their shells, NOT by their tail (which can damage their spinal cord) to avoid a bite.
Always keep the turtle pointed in the direction it’s going, even if that direction is away from water. It knows better than us where it wants to go!
*This article appeared in the latest issue of The Year of the Turtle newsletter. You can read the full issue and learn more about Year of the Turtle efforts by clicking here.
Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy is a Year of the Turtle Partner organization and we’ll be highlighting that at our Annual Meeting celebration in June.
The turtle pictured above was found crossing the road near the Courtland development in Leesburg. I helped it cross the road and it patiently let me snap it’s picture.