What To Do When You See a Turtle Crossing the Road
Kyle Fawcett (@kylehikes), Union County - Just a quick reminder that it is now Turtle nesting season, and you may start seeing female turtles crossing roads as they search for the perfect spot to lay their eggs.
There are a couple of things you want to keep in mind. You should only stop if it is absolutely safe for you to do so! Stopping in the middle of a busy road in rush hour traffic, or at a blind turn in the road, is a very bad idea that could potentially lead to bodily injury or worse for you or others. If it's safe to stop you may do so, but turn your hazard lights on and pull off the road if you can.
Next, try to keep your encounter as short and stress-free for the turtle as possible. These creatures are on a specific mission that's gonna be stressful enough, and you don't want to add to their worries. It's okay to grab a couple of pictures, but you don't want to overdo it. These are wild animals, not models for a photo shoot. If the turtle needs help crossing the road you can move it. Remember, move it in the direction it was going when you first came upon it. They may turn and scoot off the road just to turn back around as soon as you leave if they were trying to get to the other side.
Often they won't need help, but if you do pick up the turtle to move it to the far side of the road, grasp it firmly with both hands on the backside of the shell and make sure you don't drop it.
Snapping turtles shouldn't be handled as they have long necks and a hard bite. They'll often continue on their way across the road without your help. Snapping Turtles can travel a mile overland looking for the perfect spot to lay their eggs. So what's a twenty-foot wide road to them?
Once the turtle is safely on the other side of the road make sure to wash your hands and use hand sanitizer before driving off.
Remember, under no circumstances should you take a turtle home.
If you're in Pennsylvania please also note down the location, date, and time of your sighting and submit your observation with a picture of the turtle to the Pennsylvania Amphibian and Reptile Survey at www.paherpsurvey.org!
Kyle Fawcett is a coordinator of the Pennsylvania Amphibian and Reptile Survey for Union, Snyder, and Northumberland Counties. Follow him on Instagram at @kylehikes to check out more of his wildlife and nature photography.