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Helping Turtles Cross the Road

May 25, 2021

Turtles Crossing sign 


Why did the turtle cross the road?


... To search for mates and nesting sites in late spring and early summer!


Turtles crossing the street is no joke; it's a part of their nature to search for mates and nesting grounds. Unfortunately, roadways and vehicles are a dangerous obstacle for our slow-moving, scaly friends. Here are a few ways to help out when you see a turtle crossing a roadway:


  • DO NOT put yourself or others in danger. Simply pulling off the road and turning on your hazard lights may alert other drivers to slow down. Be aware of your surroundings and traffic.
  • Avoid excessive handling. While wanting to examine turtles closely is hard to resist, excessive handling can disrupt their normal behavior.
  • Allow unassisted road crossings. If there's no oncoming traffic, let the turtle cross the road without help. Observe from a distance and avoid sudden movements that may startle it. Otherwise, the turtle may change direction, stop, or seek shelter within its shell.
  • Handle turtles gently. If you must pick up a turtle, gently grasp the shell edge near the mid-point of the body with two hands. Some turtles empty their bladder when lifted off the ground, so be careful not to drop it if it suddenly does.
  • IMPORTANT! Maintain direction of travel. Always move a turtle in the same direction it was traveling when you saw it. Place the turtle at least 30 feet from the road (not on the roadside), so if startled by the experience, the turtle does not get disoriented and accidentally run back into the roadway, or freeze and get run over. Turtles should always be moved across roadways in as direct a line as possible. You might be tempted to "help" the turtle by moving it to a wooded area or water body, but the correct solution is to quickly move the turtle the shortest distance possible.
  • Snapping turtles can present a special challenge. Watch this video on how to help them cross.

Keep these tips in mind next time you go out on the road and need to help out a turtle crossing by!