It’s World Turtle Day!

It’s also Box Turtle Season here in Virginia, although unseasonably cold and wet weather has kept the turtles out of the road, so I have yet to move one. Nevertheless, I thought I’d celebrate World Turtle Day by taking a break from cat-related posting in order to relay my Tips For Moving Turtles Out Of The Road.

1) Be situationally aware. Do not slam on your brakes to save a turtle if it’s just going to get you hit by the guy behind you, who was not expecting you to stop because a turtle suddenly darted into the road. While it is true that turtles are important, your bodily integrity is even MORE crucial.

2) Stop your car well back from the turtle and turn your hazard lights on. Your car is going to be the first warning sign another driver has to be cautious. If you’re blocking the road, distance is tricky. You don’t want to park your car so close that if someone hits it, your car will then hit you and the turtle, but you also don’t want it so far back that another driver will hit you after going around your car.

3) Stop, look, listen. At least here in the piedmont of Virginia, one is most likely to encounter a turtle in the road on the winding, hilly, two-lane back roads. You will hear another car before you will see it. Be cautious!

4) Move with a sense of purpose. If you pause to take pics, remain especially alert for other cars. Better yet, get pics while moving quickly to the turtle, and if you need more pictures, they can wait until the turtle is off the road.

5) Don’t get bitten. I specialize in moving Eastern Box Turtles, which are not going to bite you unless you go out of your way to stick a finger in their mouths, but still, be canny. If you’re trying to move a snapping turtle, for instance, exercise EXTREME caution. An adult snapping turtle can bite your finger off.

6) Handle the turtle safely for the turtle, as well as yourself.

7) Move the turtle across the road in the direction it was going in the first place. Otherwise, it may just turn around and stomp angrily back into the road, and all your work was for naught.

8) Don’t move the turtle a long distance. An Eastern Box Turtle, for instance, has a home territory that it roams. If you take it out of its territory, it will try to go back there. If you’ve moved it more than a quarter mile, odds are good the turtle will die on the way home.

9) Resist the urge to lecture the turtle on the foolishness of crossing roads in the first place. They never listen.

10) Don’t expect any gratitude. The scaley little bastards always act like you have created a huge problem for them when you whisk them safely to their destination on the opposite side of the road.

11) DID I MENTION WATCH OUT FOR CARS? Stay safe. You are of limited use to turtles or anyone else if you’re lying in a hospital after having been hit.

Also, I lied about the break from cat posting. Here’s a pic of Emmaline and Noodlehead from yesterday. My quest to get the perfect picture continues; Noodlehead had her tongue out for this one. Sigh.

Emmaline, whose face is mostly white but who wears a jaunty tabby-patterned cap, and Noodlehead, whose face is mostly tabby but has squiggles of white running up her nose, take a break from their wet food buffet (visible in front of and behind them on paper plates) to stare at the camera.  Noodlehead has stuck her tongue out, because cats are cruel like that.

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2 Responses to “It’s World Turtle Day!”

  1. Sue
    0801 on May 26th, 2010

    Thank you so much for the great advice. I stopped five times to move turtles last year. So far this year only once. I even bought a reflective vest I keep on the passenger seat to throw on as I’m running to pick up the turtle. I’m so happy to see someone else who loves turtles.

  2. Andrea
    1617 on May 26th, 2010

    Oo, I never thought of the reflective vest, I’m going to have to get one, too. I just can’t see leaving the little guys in the road to get hit, even if they *are* ungrateful about being moved. ;)

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