Monday, May 31, 2010

Turtle Alert

Yes, it is early, but the turtles are out looking for good egg-laying sites, so please keep your eyes open when you are driving the roads. If you see a turtle trying to cross the road, help it do so (but keep yourself safe, too).

A little over a week ago I saw my first wood turtle of the season trying the cross the bridge over the Hudson here in Newcomb. I stopped and helped her across. It was two weeks earlier than I'd seen wood turtles in the past.

Last Thursday, on my way to an invasive plant training program, I saw my second wood turtle. This time I had my camera, so here she is.

The great thing about wood turtles is that they are quite placid. I was able to pick her up with no trouble and snap a few portraits before letting her go on the other side of the road. Wood turtles are easy to identify because of the bright orange skin on their legs.

She was quite relieved when I set her down and wasted no time dashing into the undergrowth (and yes, turtles can dash when they want to).

A short distance later, I saw this very large snapping turtle out doing her thing. She was much less inclined to cooperate for the camera. As soon as I stopped the car, she turned her back and headed into the weeds.

But, being a snapper, she wasn't going to let no stinkin' human dictate the terms of her retreat. She stopped and just sat there, head partially withdrawn into her shell. I swear she was giving me the evil eye.

So, slow down and watch the roads. Many of our turtles are suffering population declines. Let's help them out by not driving over them in our rush to get from point A to point B. Take your time and lend a hand where possible.


  1. Turtles are in the road all the time now. We had two yellow-bellied sliders trying to dig nests in the dirt road we live on.

    Love that wood turtle -- we don't have that species here. I'll have to keep my eyes open for one when we head up north for vacation this summer.

  2. Thanks for your post on keeping an eye open for turtles. I've been spreading the word about how people can safely move turtles to safety, even large snappers. For this I received the assistance of turtle expert and rehabilitator Kathy Michell. I call this becoming a Turtle Taxi, and you can read what to do in "Help Turtles Cross Roads" at:

    and "Become a Turtle Taxi" at:

    ...and here's a printable quick guide to carry in your car, your backpack, or on your bike so there's always guidance at hand:

    The more folks who learn how to safely move turtles out of harm's way, the better! Thanks for your efforts!

  3. Thanks, Tamia! I will put this info into a regular post since not everyone reads the comments. :)

  4. We live in west Quebec, about an hour north of Ottawa, ON. When driving the dirt roads on June 11 2011, we saw five big turtles laying eggs at different spots. The route we took is our usual "sightseeing" drive on bush roads, and there were no turtles the next day. We couldn't help wondering whether the phase of the moon has something to do with it?? It just seems odd that all those females would just coincidentally lay eggs on the same day. Anyone???

    Vicki and Buck