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Moving Turtles

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  • Moving Turtles

    Show of hands please. Who else moves turtles off the road?
    Box turtles, sliders, huge snappers. We do, so do our families and friends.
    I have three rules: (1) Don't cause a wreck (2) don't get yourself killed (3) Move the turtle in its direction of travel.
    As I have read, turtles have a cognitive map of their territory which is usually a square mile or less. They know where food, water, and shelter is to be found in their territory. Take them away from their terrritory and you're dooming them to a death of starvation or exposure.

    Here's a couple of my favorite rescues.
    Driving to work, came up and over a hill, box turtle in the middle of my lane. No one behind me so I could hit the brakes pretty good and pull well off the road. Jogged back and could hear another vehicle coming up the hill. Jumped over the guard rail and waved my arm twice and pointed down. It worked, as the vehicle slowed way down as it crested the hill, then came to a complete stop. I looked up, it was a cop! He turned on his flashing lights. I grinned, hopped over the rail, walked in front of him and got the turtle. Checked for traffic in the other lane, every one else had stopped when they saw the cop!

    Coming home on my rural road, whipped into someone's driveway, jumped from my truck and sprinted across their yard to the road. Heard a voice yell, "WHAT IS IT?!"
    After I moved turtle, the old guy who was sitting on his porch moseyed over and I explained what I was doing and why. "I hate seeing them smushed in the road." He asked "So what do you do, drive around all day looking for turtles?"
    Explained that I was on my way home from work and this was the third one I had moved that day.
    He said, get this, "I don't believe I have ever met anyone like you before." I laughed and said there were other turtle movers out there and now he could be one too.
    "There are some people in this world who wouldn't move another human off the road", he said.
    I shrugged as I got in my truck.
    He said, "You will be Blessed", and motioned that I could turn around in his yard.

    Let's hear your stories

  • #2
    I do, so does DH.

    A long time ago, somebody ttld me that "It's gonna rain" if you see lots of turtles crossing the road. I thought they were FOS at the time, but for the most part, it's true!


    • #3
      I do when I can, traffic permitting. Snappers are the hardest. Feisty, those gals. I use a snow brush to shove them, or if I can get them flipped onto their backs, I can push them easily with the snow brush.

      Always move the turtle in the direction it was heading. If you don't, it will turn around and end up on the road again.
      My Equestrian Art Photography page


      • #4
        I've been moving turtles since I was a kid in Maryland. I remember my mother and I moving a big snapper with a broom handle.

        Up here, there are much fewer turtles to move. But recently I did move a smallish snapper on an entrance ramp to the highway (pulled over, looked carefully and kept my wits about me).


        • #5
          Yes I do it as well.

          I had to tell DH to keep a look out for turtles on our road. Last year I found one that had been hit on our road. So I know they cross in that area.
          My life motto now is "You can't fix stupid!"

          Are you going to cowboy up, or lie there and bleed


          • #6
            Terrapins and Painted turtles yes... Snappers can take their chances.

            My mother is a turtle freak. I remember one day at college I was walking past a pond on campus and found a quarter sized painted turtle on the sidewalk. I scooped it up, skipped class, and drove across town to my mother's office. I said "close your eyes and hold out your hand". We returned the little guy to his home right away, but it was such a fun little discovery to share.
            Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans


            • #7
              Yay for turtle movers!!! I'm glad to see it confirmed they should be moved in the direction they were going.

              One problem I've struggled with is box turtles coming into my dry paddocks during a drought - I let my water tanks overflow during those times so the horses feet get some moisture while drinking - the turtles were apparently attracted to the moist mud around the tanks - BUT they would end up getting smushed by horses hooves!

              So each day I would collect any live turtles, drive them half a mile to the creek & set them loose there. Now you are making me wonder if I'm doing the right thing, taking them so far from their territory?? But if I don't move them far enough from the paddocks, they will just end up in the water tank smush zone again...

              Anyway it does my heart good to know others are concerned about these things too.

              Hurrah to Turtle Movers United!!!


              • #8
                Originally posted by leaf View Post
                "There are some people in this world who wouldn't move another human off the road", he said.
                I shrugged as I got in my truck.
                He said, "You will be Blessed", and motioned that I could turn around in his yard.
                Originally posted by Arcadien View Post
                Hurrah to Turtle Movers United!!!
                Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans


                • #9
                  I absolutely brake for turtles! All kinds, anywhere. I have no problem picking up even the big snappers and I LOVE it when someone stops and says, "Watcha doin'?" and I can infect them with my turtle passion! I've probably converted about half as many turtle savers as I've rescued turtles! Just a brief explanation of what kind of turtle I'm holding, when and how it lays eggs and why it's likely crossing the road and I almost always hear, "Oh, cool! I'll keep an eye out for them!"

                  I learned a serious lesson from a turtle when I was a kid. I had a little box turtle in an aquarium that had been trapped in a neighbor's window well. Don't know how long it had been there, but it was in terrible shape and smelled like death when I found it. A few dozen earthworms, tomatoes, strawberries and various grubs later, she was a beautiful Eastern Box Turtle. I was planning to release her after another few days and while strolling the backyard I came upon the tiniest little box turtle that was missing a foot! My dad was mowing the lawn and this little guy would have been right in the path of the mower on the next pass. I swooped him up and told him not to worry, I'd keep him safe and let him go with the other turtle the next day. I showed him to my parents and I went on and on about how worried I was about the little gimp and how maybe I should just keep him since he was no doubt weakened by his disability. I placed him in the aquarium with the bigger turtle and worried about the poor little guy all night long. When I got up in the morning I raced down to check on the poor little crippled turtle. I found him gorging himself on the food I'd placed in the enclosure the night before and the bigger turtle was sealed up in her shell in a corner. I pulled her out and set her on the floor and when she was brave to emerge she looked like she'd taken a knife to a gun fight! She was punctured and lacerated on her front legs and neck. So much for the great wide world being too dangerous a place for a 3-footed box turtle! That little thing was a terror!
                  So I let Jack the Ripper go that morning and kept his victim for another week or so until she seemed well on her way to healing. And I've NEVER underestimated a human or animal with a "disability" ever since.
                  "Absent a correct diagnosis, medicine is poison, surgery is trauma and alternative therapy is witchcraft" A. Kent Allen


                  • #10
                    Me too --

                    The only time (when I was a kid) that we didn't move one was because he/she was a HUGE snapper.... this bugger could have taken my dad's thumb off in one bite. Fortunately it was a very rural road, so we just stood watch until he lumbered off into the drainage ditch.
                    <>< Sorrow Looks Back. Worry Looks Around. Faith Looks Up! -- Being negative only makes a difficult journey more difficult. You may be given a cactus, but you don't have to sit on it.


                    • #11
                      Turtles in this area know to move to the center of the road - honest. They can move pretty fast too - but if I can stop safely I get them all the way to the edge.

                      There's a huge female RES that I've moved a couple of times. I have two males about the size of my hand and she is easily the size of a luncheon plate, I come home and tell them all about the amazon I saw and how she's too much for them, now eat.
                      Courageous Weenie Eventer Wannabe
                      Incredible Invisible


                      • #12
                        I'm a turtle mover too. I'll move any of them, even the big snappers. (They just don't seem to appreciate it though)


                        • #13
                          I moved a snapper awhile back, using a stick. We are right on the river and fortunately our road doesn't have a lot of traffic.
                          Count me in! :-)


                          • #14
                            No turtles here but I will stop to move wildlife off the road when I can. Rescued a hedgehog this morning. (Easy done- throw an old towel over them and away you go.) So fun seeing him trundle off into the hedgerow.
                            Horse Show Names Free name website with over 6200 names. Want to add? PM me!


                            • Original Poster

                              Arcadian, can you provide another water source? I make turtle baths with big drip pans from potted plants. Put them outside the pasture in the edge of the woods. I bury them so they're almost flush with the ground, and add a fist-sized rock or two if anyone needs help getting out. All sorts of wildlife use them.

                              I dread mowing, and I have lots to mow. I will walk and stomp areas that I know are frequented by the turtles, then wait a bit before I mow. The larger places I will drive the mower around slowly and with the blades off, stopping here and there, then come back a while later to actually mow. All in hopes that the turtles will have moved off. I also get off and move toads and preying mantis, I pause for honey bees. Takes me forever to mow.


                              • #16
                                I'm a turtle mover! The one box turtle that I rescued had to be taken to a wildlife rehabber, as he had some injuries probably from a car). I made sure that they had my number to return him to his original territory, but it turned out he had lost his sight, so he remained the "turtle in residence" at a children's museum.

                                One day I stopped & picked up a turtle on a highway on ramp. I was walking him across the grass to the nearby pond, and I was holding him up and talking to him all the way. The driver of a big rig who was coming up the ramp just about lost it, laughing at me.


                                • #17
                                  Hand raised on turtle saving.

                                  Yes, I do abide by your 3 very smart rules.

                                  I would like to add a #4, and #5.

                                  4) Don't get bit.
                                  5) Use disposable gloves or any gloves if you can to prevent salmonella.


                                  • #18
                                    Leaf that is a great idea, I hadn't thought of that. I know just the place to put my turtle waterer I'm going to google other wildlife habitat ideas - thanks for the inspiration!!!

                                    The story about the 3 legged turtle attacking the bigger turtle reminds me of when I put a new tiny Pygmy goat in with my huge goat. I worried all night about the Pygmy. In the morning I found the larger goat hanging trapped on the fence he'd tried to jump to get away from the aggressive little Pygmy!

                                    Big goat had a broken leg & I took him into my living room for 4 weeks with his own little pen bedded with straw. He healed fine & after penning them side by side for a few months, I was able to let them in together ultimately.

                                    I'll never underestimate a smaller specimen of a species again either!

                                    (PS decades later my parents confessed that the moment they came to visit & found a large goat bedded down in my living room was the moment they realized they'd "lost" me as a normal, civilized daughter )


                                    • #19
                                      Another turtle-mover here! The one exception just last week... pretty big snapping turtle, not a heavily traveled road, turtle was making good time. Made DD stop and wait for it to get out of our lane then proceeded. I'm sure it made it, not a lot of traffic out there.

                                      Originally posted by Arcadien View Post

                                      One problem I've struggled with is box turtles coming into my dry paddocks during a drought - I let my water tanks overflow during those times so the horses feet get some moisture while drinking - the turtles were apparently attracted to the moist mud around the tanks - BUT they would end up getting smushed by horses hooves!

                                      So each day I would collect any live turtles, drive them half a mile to the creek & set them loose there. Now you are making me wonder if I'm doing the right thing, taking them so far from their territory?? But if I don't move them far enough from the paddocks, they will just end up in the water tank smush zone again...

                                      Anyway it does my heart good to know others are concerned about these things too.

                                      Hurrah to Turtle Movers United!!!
                                      Not turtles, but chipmunks used to drown in my water trough and it made me sad so I just provided a lower/safer water source for them. I wonder if you could provide the box turtles with a mud puddle that isn't in the paddock? I mean, if you're so inclined. I would be curious how many of those turtles that you've relocated have returned to your paddock! You might be moving the same ones over and over. Half a mile isn't really that far, even for a turtle.


                                      • #20
                                        Waving my hand. I'll move them if it's safe for me to stop. Last turtle I moved was one I saw in the street in front of my house while looking out my computer room window. Moved it over to my garden. Haven't seen any turtles in my yard since, but they probably are out there.