It’s turtle nesting season in Massachusetts. I spotted this snapping turtle hatchling in the road this morning and helped him get to the other side.
Turtles move slowly and are hard to see, so they are especially vulnerable to fast-moving traffic. Any time I see a turtle in the road, I stop to help it cross safely. You can help turtles too! Just follow these simple rules:
1. Only stop to help a turtle cross the road if you can do so without putting yourself or anyone else in danger. Pull your car over in a safe place and be mindful of traffic.
2. ALWAYS move the turtle in the direction it was heading. DO NOT bring the turtle back to side it was coming from. The turtle is heading to the other side for a reason, so don’t try to change its mind!
3. Do not bring a turtle to a “better location”. It knows where it’s heading and it has a reason. All you need to do is get it across the road faster.
4. Never pick up a turtle by its tail as this could dislocate its spine.
5. You can hold most turtles (except for snapping turtles), by the sides of the shell. Just pick the turtle up, bring it across the street to safety, and put it down in the direction it was heading.
6. Snapping turtles move fairly quickly and can cause some serious damage (severed fingers, for example). Keep your hands away from the front of the turtle. Because their necks are so long, a snapper can actually reach your hands if you hold the turtle by the sides of its shell. The best way to move a snapper is to grasp the shell in the back. Watch this demonstration. You can identify a snapper by its long tail with dragon-like points and jagged-edged shell.
7. Turtles have been known to carry Salmonella, so grab some hand sanitizer after you’ve put the turtle down and make sure to wash with soap and water as soon as you get to a sink.