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Hills & Heights

Tips for helping turtles cross the road

Let’s talk turtles and roads.



This time of year turtles of all types are making treks into new areas looking for love and food. These treks often force them to cross our roads. Car versus turtle never ends well for the turtle.

Fortunately U.S. Fish and Wildlife have a list of ways you can help turtles get across our roads. All the pictures used in this article were taken near Pony Pasture and Reedy Creek.

Helping Turtles Cross the Street

  1. Always keep your own safety in mind — watch out for oncoming vehicles, signal properly when pulling over and recognize your surroundings first before working to help save an animal.
  2. Be very careful when moving the animal (it could be injured or it could bite you depending on what species). If possible, sometimes it is best to just stand guard as the animal crosses the road on its own.
  3. If the animal needs to be moved,move it to the other side of the road in the same direction it was going. Using a car mat can be a good way to help the turtles across without actually picking them up. By using a car mat or putting something under the turtle, you can slide the turtle in the direction it was going.
  4. Do not pick the turtle up by the tail. Some turtles may be frightened and will try to bite (like snapping turtles). Do not pick them up by the tail! Here’s a great video showing ways to safely help a snapping turtle in the road such as the car mat trick, or by holding them at the base of the shell and not the side.
  5. Do NOT take it with you — please only focus on helping it get safely to the other side.
  6. Get involved with roadside restoration and transportation projects: We’re working to make our roads and roadsides work for transportation and the environment. Learn more about road ecology and wildlife for ways to get involved at a local level.

It’s worth repeating, do not take the turtle home. Your backyard or aquarium tank are not as awesome as the James River and environs.

If you come across an injured turtle or any other animal for that matter call the Richmond Wildlife Center. If they can’t help they’ll likely know who can help out.

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Richard Hayes is the co-founder of RVAHub. When he isn't rounding up neighborhood news, he's likely watching soccer or chasing down the latest and greatest board game.

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