It’s that time of year again! Turtles all over Ontario are on the move, looking for mates, nesting sites, or maybe just a different habitat. Now is the time for everyone to be more careful and watch the road for anything that could be a turtle (and remember they can look a lot like rocks..) If you do see something on the road, please try your best to safely go around it, and you can even help a turtle cross the road if it is safe for you to do so!

If it is safe for you to stop and help a turtle cross the road remember some key points:

  • Park in a safe place (with your hazards on)
  • Check for traffic before exiting your vehicle, and again before approaching/moving the turtle
  • Be careful when handling turtles, avoid their heads, and keep in mind the claws can be sharp! If you find a Snapping turtle, this video will help instruct you on how to safely move the turtle
  • Move the turtle in the direction they were going (or they will just cross again once you leave- they are persistent!)
  • Wash or sanitize your hands
  • Smile because you just helped out a little friend!

Sadly, we are sometimes too late to help a turtle across and they have already been hit. In those cases you can follow the steps here to help bring an injured turtle into the Ontario Turtle Conservation Centre (OTCC) for medical help and a second chance to survive in the wild again.

On occasion, even an adult female who has been hit by a car can still carry eggs which may be able to be incubated and released the next year. The same is true of a dead female, her eggs can be incubated and stand a good chance of hatching in the fall! So, it can still be helpful to bring such animals into the OTCC to check for eggs. For these times when a turtle is injured or might carry eggs it is always good to carry a big plastic tub with a lid, some gloves, hand sanitizer, and a flat shovel (if you are concerned about snapping turtles) in your car so that you are prepared to be a turtle hero when the time arrives!

The little guys might not show their appreciation very well, but you can be sure you have just saved a life, and what could be better than that?!

Also, don’t forget to get your own “I brake for turtles” sticker so people know you are a turtle hero and give will you the space needed as you help out our little friends.

One last thing… you will want to watch this video of a nest full of awkwardly ancient looking baby snappers that were rescued from the road!

— Toby Rowland —