2% of Drivers Swerved to Hit The Turtle
A student from Clemson University in South Carolina ran a project to find out how dangerous the local roads were for crossing turtles. The student put a realistic turtle model in the middle of his campus road and observed how drivers reacted. Shockingly, the student witnessed seven drivers intentionally running over the turtle and several more unsuccessfully trying to hit it. The student repeated the experiment in multiple areas around campus and in residential areas, but all areas had similar results; about 2% of drivers swerved to hit the turtle!
All turtles reproduce very slowly. In Ontario, some turtles need to be 12 years old or more before being able to lay eggs and become better reproducers as they age. Turtle eggs and hatchlings have high mortality rates. Only 1% of eggs will become a turtle that survives long enough to reproduce.
If it’s safe to do so, please stop and help turtles cross the road!
Small turtles can be picked up easily by holding both sides of the shell with your thumb on top of the turtle’s carapace (upper shell) and your fingers on the bottom of the turtle’s plastron (belly shell). Hold the turtle’s belly away from you because frightened turtles may nip and some will pee when they are scared. Carry the turtle close to the ground, it may claw and squirm when picked up and you don’t want it to fall very far if it wiggles out of your hands. Be sure to move the turtle to the other side of the road in the DIRECTION IT WAS HEADED, otherwise it will turn around and cross the road again.
Snapping turtles are heavy and their heads can almost reach the back of their shells, so picking them up can be tricky. Your best bet to move a snapping turtle is to get it to bite on to something (eg. stick, towel) or sliding something under the turtle (eg. shovel, car floor mat) and quickly dragging it across the road.
Visit Adopt-A-Pond’s Turtle Resources for more information on moving turtles, a video on moving Snapping turtles and quick tips on how to make sure your car is prepared with turtle moving supplies!
By: Shannon Ritchie (AAP Wetland Biologist)