During the warmer months of the year, you may notice turtles crossing the road. Turtles are so slow, and cars are so fast… why would turtles take that risk!?

Turtles have been on this land long before cars were and, in some cases, even long before roads. They know that one particular wetland is perfect for them to hibernate in, and a different wetland nearby is great for food. Perhaps another area is a place where they have laid eggs for generations. Suddenly, there is a road separating all of these places a turtle needs to complete their reproductive cycle.

So why did the turtle cross the road?

  • To find something to eat
  • To find a mate
  • To lay her eggs
  • To go back to their hibernation area

This puts turtles in a lot of danger as they try to cross roads! Turtles and cars do not mix.

But wait! You can help save turtles crossing the roads as you walk, bike, or are in the car with your family! How? By stopping to help!

How to help a turtle on the road:

  1. Have your parents pull over if it safe to do so and turn on the vehicle’s hazard lights,
  2. Carry the turtle in the direction that it was moving.
  3. Make sure to use both your hands and hold the turtle at the sides. Always keep your hands away from their faces.
  4. Wash your hands!

NEVER pick up a turtle by its tail. Its spine is directly connected to its tail, and it will get injured. 

You will likely encounter a snapping turtle on your travels this summer. Don’t wait until it is too late! Watch the video for great tips on how to handle them.

What if the turtle is injured?

  1. Have your parents pull over safely if it safe to do so and turn on the vehicle’s hazard lights,
  2. Move turtle from immediate danger,
  3. Call the Ontario Turtle Conservation Centre 705-741-5000,
  4. Place the turtle in a well-ventilated container (such as a plastic container with holes in the lid).  Use a towel, puppy pads, or other soft material to cushion the turtle.
  5. Note the location of where it was picked up by a GPS location, street signs, or other landmarks.
  6. Do not give the turtle food, place it in water, and NEVER wash out its wounds.
Volunteers make injured turtle transport boxes.
Photo: Cory Kozmic

The turtles will thank you for your help!