Helping an Injured Turtle

An injured turtle needs medical attention as soon as possible!



Injured Turtle

Turtle Eggs

Recently Deceased Turtle

If the turtle is NOT injured

Turtle Nest

Outside of Peterborough

How to Help an Injured Turtle

1. Carefully place the injured animal in a well-ventilated plastic container with a secure lid (turtles can climb!), and no water.

Note: Most turtles can be picked up carefully with two hands. When handling snapping turtles keep a safe distance from their head as they will snap at you if they feel threatened. You may want to use a shovel or board to lift the turtle. Watch our video clip for more tips for handling turtles.

2. Note the location (road, major intersections, and mileage) where the turtle was found to ensure it can be released according to provincial regulations.

3. Call us at 705-741-5000

Note: DO NOT EMAIL with information about an injured turtle. An injured animal needs medical attention as soon as possible.

4. Do not offer the turtle water or food, and do not try to treat the turtle in any way.

5. Wash your hands after handling the animal.

6. If you have to keep a turtle overnight, keep it in the well-ventilated container and place it in a cool, dark place, away from pets. Leave us a message and we will get back to you when we open.

Turtle Eggs

Important: Never disturb a natural nest! Not only is this not legal, but it can often lead to death of the eggs/hatchlings.

If you find eggs that have been accidentally been dug up or otherwise disturbed, carefully follow the steps below and contact us as soon as possible. If you have found a nesting turtle, or an intact turtle nest, DO NOT disturb it. Please see our section about turtle nests.

1. Call us at 705-741-5000. If you have to leave a voicemail, you can continue with the next steps as you wait for a callback.

2. Prepare a container or egg carton by placing about 1 inch of damp soil on the bottom, and make a small indent with your thumb for each egg.

3. BEFORE you pick up each egg, put a small dot on the upward end with a sharpie. Always keep that end facing up. It’s important not to rotate the eggs as that may cause the embryo to detach from the shell.

4. “Plant” the egg partway into the dirt or sand, into the indent you made (they don’t need to be buried) with the dot up. Leave a space between each egg so that they don’t jostle against each other while transporting.

5. Wash your hands after handling the eggs.

6. Note the location (coordinates, address, or nearest intersection) where the eggs were found to ensure they can be released according to provincial regulations.

7. Bring the eggs to us at 4-1434 Chemong Rd., Selwyn, ON. If it’s not possible for you to get them here, wait for our callback for further instructions. We have volunteer drivers all over the province who may be able to help.

The Value of a Deceased Turtle

A turtle’s value does not end at the end of its life. If the turtle is a female, it could have eggs that we can incubate here at the centre until they hatch. We also collect data and tissue samples, which many organizations use for their studies and research on Ontario’s turtles.

If you have found a recently deceased turtle:

1. Place the turtle in a bin with no water.

2. Note the location (road, major intersections, and mileage) where the turtle was found to ensure hatchlings can be released according to provincial regulations, and/or the data we collect can be used accurately.

3. Call us at 705-741-5000

4. Wash your hands after handling the animal.

What to Do With a Non-Injured Turtle

Snapping Turtle on a Road Shoulder

DO NOT remove a healthy turtle from its habitat – it reduces their chances of survival. If you find an uninjured turtle in the middle of a road, and it is safe for you to do so, simply help it across the road in the direction it is moving.

If You Have Found a Nesting Female

DO NOT disturb a nesting female, even it’s on the side of the road. If possible, watch for when she’s done and then help her cross the road if she attempts to do so. However the nesting process can take several hours so this is not always feasible.

DO NOT dig up nests to protect the eggs, even if the nest is in a non-ideal location – you may damage the eggs AND it is against the law. Tips on how you can help turtle nests here.

Outside of Peterborough

Even if you live outside of Peterborough, call us at 705-741-5000.  We work with dozens of Turtle First Response Centres across Ontario – these are private clinics, or rehabilitators that we have trained in emergency treatment for turtles. We will be able to direct you to the appropriate location, while transfer to our hospital is being organized.