Yesterday morning was warm but beautiful so I took advantage of the conditions to walk at the lake. I snapped this phone picture just before crossing the bridge that connects the island to the rest of the park.
To my horror, I spotted a turtle crossing the road as an SUV sped his way. The speed limit is 35 miles per hour but that vehicle was driving much faster and I knew I couldn’t safely save the little guy.
As the SUV barreled down on him, I watched with both horror and intrigue as he pivoted so the long part of his shell would be parallel with the yellow line and he took up as little space as possible between the car’s tires.
It was incredible.
The car passed, he survived and I scurried out into the road to help him to the gravel causeway. I carefully set him down and stepped away about ten feet to see what would happen next. He seemed to be headed my way on the road which tells me he was traveling from the stream across the road to the much larger lake where I was walking. If he turned to go back onto the road like he was going to that stream, I would have helped with that too.
Luckily, there was no need to worry. He stuck his head out and appeared to sniff the air before scurrying down the bank and into the water. He moved shockingly fast as he scampered down the shore and swam away.
I live in hill country. It isn’t uncommon to see a turtle in the road but it can be challenging to find a safe place to pull over and help them cross.
Cars and poachers are probably the greatest threats to turtles in Ohio. Being smashed by a car is a painful, slow death so please do everything in your power to avoid hitting one.
If you see a turtle in the road, feel free to help if you can. First, make sure you can safely pull over. Also remember that Snapping turtles will bite and hold on but most other turtles are safe to help – just hold onto both sides between their front and back legs. Never handle a turtle by the tail.
Finally, be sure to move them in the direction they are traveling. Turtles are purposeful and are on the move because they need to be. If you move them to a place they do not wish to be, you can be making their lives drastically more difficult.
This story from the Sierra Club is a few years old but contains great information to help you. There’s also a video that demonstrates multiple ways to help a snapping turtle.
Help a turtle, save a life. Be a turtle hero!