Monday, January 17, 2022

Five things you should know about helping local turtles

Snapping turtle (Photo by Tina Nord from Pexels)

HAMPTON ROADS — It is a common occurrence around town to see turtles scooting their way across roadways. Here are some things you should know when attempting to aid a wild turtle.

  1. When attempting to help a turtle that is crossing the road, do not relocate them to a different place. The Wildlife Center of Virginia says that these turtles could be egg-laden females that are looking for appropriate nesting sites. However, they do live in a small home territory and their survivability depends on staying in that location. So when you attempt to rescue a turtle in the road way, place it safely on the side in which it was attempting to cross to.
  2. It is not uncommon to find snapping turtles crawling in your yard. They come on land during mating and breeding season. If you find an injured snapping turtle, it is important to make sure that your hands are not placed anywhere near the front end of the turtle’s body. They have powerful jaws and long necks that can extend quickly. If you have a container large enough to contain the turtle, gently nudge it in the direction of it. If you do not, you can pick it up by the top shell by placing your hands above each back leg. If you have gloves, do wear them as their claws can be sharp. However, it is probably best not to disturb the turtle.
  3. If you find a turtle in the wild, do not keep it as a pet. The nonprofit organization, Turtle Survival Alliance, points out that very few hatchlings make it to adulthood and those that do are slow to mature. Removing individuals from the wild would greatly impact local populations.
  4. If a turtle is found injured, it is important to get in touch with licensed rehabilitators. Most SPCAs and city/county animal controls are unable to accept wildlife. Additionally, the Virginia Living Museum is not a licensed rehabilitator and, therefore, cannot accept wild (or domestic) animals. To find your closest Virginia rehabilitator, click here.
  5. Watch out for turtles when doing yardwork. Aquatic turtles tend to travel far from water in order to lay eggs.

For more information as well as Virginia’s laws regarding turtles, click here. To help identify the various turtles native to Virginia, visit the website for the Virginia Herpetological Society.

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