What To Do When You Find a Box Turtle
If you're one of those people that stops to help turtles cross the street, you'll want to read this!
It's turtle time! Around this time every summer, it's not uncommon to come across a box turtle here and there. Some of them can be found roaming through your back yard, while others get caught trying to cross a busy street. If you're like me, you're one of those people that stops in the middle of traffic (using caution, of course) to help a turtle to safety. Well, turns out there's some things we should know before helping out our shelled friends.
Turtles are particularly active at dawn, and especially on rainy days - so be cautious especially around those times/instances.
Wherever you've spotted the turtle is most likely where it will spend its entire life.
Turtles only roam about a mile total in their lifetime. So, if you do rescue one of the little fellas, keep it close to where you found it.
If you take a turtle home with you, or try to move it to a "safer" habitat, it might spend its entire life trying to find home again. Unfortunately, the chances of the turtle dying are increased dramatically during its attempted journey home. Heartbreaking.
Also, when a turtle is relocated, it could potentially be carrying disease to a new area and infect other turtles. Keep them where they are to prevent spreading.
Your best bet is to move the turtle across the street in the direction it was moving. Before doing this, make sure the road is clear and you aren't putting yourself in danger. Safety first!
If you spot a turtle in your back yard, simply let it be. Actually, consider yourself lucky...because that means you have a little turtle colony nearby, and what's cooler than that?
Whatever you do, don't take the turtle home. And especially don't put it in an aquarium with water. Turtles are terrestrial and aquariums are far too small for them.
Now, there might be a situation where you come across an injured turtle. In those special circumstances, there's a different set of rules.
First, you'll want to find your nearest wildlife rehabilitator. There are several rehabilitators across the Evansville area. For the full list of permitted wildlife rehabiliators, click here.
When transporting a sick or injured turtle, it's best to keep the turtle in a box with a damp towel. Do not transport the turtle in water, as it could drown.
Handle the turtle as little as possible. Since its injuries and illness is unknown, this helps prevent any bacteria from spreading between you and the turtle. It also helps reduce stress for the turtle.
Mark the EXACT spot the turtle was found so rehabilitators can eventually return the turtle to its home, if possible.
Last but not least, pat yourself on the back for doing a good deed! Save the turtles!