turtle and snail comic strip

Find a Turtle in the Road

This time of year, it is not uncommon to see turtles trying to make their way across the road. They may be migrating to lay their eggs, find a mate, or just traveling between wetlands. If you see a turtle in the roadway, here are some easy steps on how you can help it arrive at its destination safely:


Before exiting your vehicle, take proper precautions to ensure your safety. 

Look for traffic, put your hazard lights on, and make sure you won’t be putting yourself in harm’s way. 


Determine toward which direction the turtle is headed. 

It’s very important to move the turtle TOWARD the direction it is intending. When turtles move, they are on a mission to get to where they are going. If it’s moved to the opposite side, it will simply cross the road again. 


Determine what kind of turtle it is to determine the best way to move it. 

Most turtles are peaceful, but snapping turtles have a powerful bite and will use it as a defense mechanism. They are also fast and can whip around or scratch.

painted turtle

If moving a smaller turtle... 
...such as a painted turtle like the one to the left, grasp it firmly by either side of its shell, behind its front legs. The turtle may kick its legs in protest or may even pee but hold on firmly and be sure not to lift it too high off the ground. Turtles are surprisingly strong and a fall could injure it, badly.


If the turtle is larger with a long tail...
...it could be a snapping turtle like the one to the right. If assisting a snapper across the road, use a blunt object to push the turtle across the road. A shovel works great if you have one handy! Another method is to allow it to bite and hold onto a stick or car mat and then drag it across the road. Their tough exterior will not be harmed by dragging on the roadway. 

common snapping turtle


If at any time, a crack is seen in the shell or another injury, the turtle must be taken to a wildlife rehabilitator for help. 

Even a turtle that is severely injured can remain alive for a very long time given their slow metabolisms. Tufts Wildlife in Grafton accepts wild turtles or call Animal Control at 781-786-6201 to report an injured turtle. 

Animal Control Officer Rachel Hoffman submits a blog post every month to Animal Control Corner. These posts are open to comments or questions. Find past posts at www.weston.org/ACOBlog and if you have a question or comment on this post or any others, please share.
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