Look out for Turtles on the Road

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Spring is in the air! And with all of nature’s extracurricular activities it will be soon be time for the sightings of many new mother turtles making there long journey to their nesting beach to lay their eggs. In Southern Ontario it’s almost impossible to travel more than a kilometer in any direction before crossing a road. So it’s not surprising that so many turtles get hit during this should be joyous time in a mother turtles’ life. Here is an interesting story about their turtle troubled during this time: the original article by Linda Givetash, April 2013.
Please take extra care in areas where turtles are crossing. If it’s safe to do so please stop and help turtles cross the road.
Helping a Turtle on 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 scratch and some will pee when they are scared.

Snapping turtles are the exception – they will try to snap at you and scare you away and can reach their head to their back legs so it’s not a great idea to pick them up. Move a snapping turtle by placing a shovel, plywood or car floor mat under the turtles and dragging it to the other side of the road. Or you can get the snapping turtles to bit onto a stick and dragged it across the road.

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 that it was headed; otherwise it will turn around and try to get there on its own again.

To see examples on how to move a Snapping turtle, check out our short video here!

Helping an Injured Turtle

If you stop for a turtle and find that it is injured, there are a number of wildlife rehabilitators that will take it in and fix it up. A list of these can be found at the bottom of this page. You are legally allowed to have a turtle for 24 hours while it is in transit to a licensed rehabilitator. Remember that the turtle may have internal injuries that are not yet apparent, so handle with care during transport. Keep the car radio low and take care turning while driving to reduce stress to the turtle. During this time keep the turtle dry and warm. Do not place it in water or offer it anything to drink or eat. The turtle should be kept at room temperature, around 18-22 degrees Celsius.

If you are planning on taking a turtle to a rehabilitator, be sure to call them first. Many of these locations function only with volunteer staff and may not be available if you show up unexpectedly. Your call will also give them a chance to let their veterinarians know that a turtle is coming in. Be sure to record the location where the turtle was found so it can be released back into its home once it recovers.

What you need to take an injured turtle to a wildlife rehabilitator:

For a small turtle:
– A small container/ bucket/ cooler that the turtle can be placed into
. 1′ long is big enough
. This should be opaque and not clear so that the turtle feels secure
. You should drill air holes in the top to ensure adequate ventilation
. Avoid cardboard boxes, they can get soggy and rip
– A towel that can be placed in the box so that the turtle does not slide around while you are driving

For a Snapping Turtle:
– A large container/ bucket/ cooler that the turtle can be placed into
. 2′ long is big enough
. This should be opaque and not clear so that the turtle feels secure
. You should drill air holes in the top to ensure adequate ventilation
– A towel that can be placed in the box so that the turtle does not slide around while you are driving
– Duct Tape to secure the lid of the container

Contact these locations for more information on local rescue centres in your area:

The Kawartha Turtle Trauma Centre
C/O Riverview Park And Zoo
8am – 4pm, Monday to Sunday
1230 Water Street North
Peterborough, ON
Tel: (705) 748-9301 ext. 2320
http://www.kawarthaturtle.org

Sandy Pines Wildlife Centre Inc.
8749 County Rd 2,
Napanee, ON,
Tel: (613) 354-0264
ww.sandypineswildlife.org

Toronto Wildlife Centre
9am – 6pm, 365 Days a Year
60 Carl Hall Rd., Unit 4
Toronto, ON
Hotline: (416) 631-0662
http://www.torontowildlifecentre.com

Leeds & Grenville OSPCA
800 Centennial Rd.,
Brockville, ON
Tel: (613) 345-5520
leedsgrenville@ospca.on.ca

Turtle Haven & Rescue
Kitchener, ON
uros@sympatico.ca
http://www.turtlehaven.ca

Wild At Heart Wildlife Refuge Centre
95 White Rd.,
Lively, ON,
Tel: (705) 692-4478
http://www.wahrefugecentre.org

Rideau Valley Wildlife Sanctuary
North Gower, ON
Tel: (613) 258-9480
http://www.rideauwildlife.org

Also to help us keep track of turtles population report any sightings of turtles you see in Ontario to Turtle Tally! Your data is important for research and will be used to determine areas where conservation can help turtle populations!

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