Here's some Frequently Asked Questions we get asked. When in doubt, always call a wildlife rehabber!
For more details, see our blog post on How to Help Turtles.
It is critical to the long-term survival of our native turtle species that individuals never be taken from the wild.
Taking a turtle from the wild means they are effectively dead to their population. Turtles are very long-lived, with similar lifespans to humans. They are incredibly important to their local ecosystem, and taking them from their habitat means there’s now no chance that individual can reproduce and keep the population stable. Turtles also reach sexual maturity much later than other species, again similar to humans. For a Blanding’s turtle, that can be anywhere from 14 to 20 years old! And they will continue to reproduce throughout their lifetime, so that could be 40, 60, 100 years more of replenishment to the population, since they are so long lived. The pet trade is a large reason why turtle populations are disappearing globally, and adds to the long list of threats they already experience.
From May to September turtles are on the move! You can make a huge impact by being on the lookout for turtles crossing the road during these pivotal months. Helping a turtle cross the road can truly be the difference between life or death for that individual.
Check out our How to Help Turtles Cross the Road blog post for tips on how to best handle turtles.
First off, CONGRATS! Not many people get to witness the nesting behavior of turtles, and it's an amazing site to behold.
The single most important thing we can do is NOT disturb her while she's nesting. When turtles are disturbed from nesting, it forces them go find a new location, and this is often a very dangerous feat. There's many factors that came into play when choosing this spot, and now she has to start the process over - traveling far, often across roads, risking herself and her eggs.
The best thing to give her space and keep pets clear of the area. It may take a while, but soon she will be on her way, and you may also have just saved her life.
For more important details, check our blog post A Turtle Is Nesting In My Yard.
We never ever ever want to relocate turtles. Turtles have special adaptations for their habitat and have co-evolved with their local environments, so they should never be moved, except for right across the street in the direction they are headed.
Relocation has been studied in turtles, and it greatly reduces their chances of survival. That individual may be forever in pursuit of that previous territory. In rehabilitation, relocation is avoided at all costs, and we always return as close as possible to the location where found while taking into consideration their natural history.
They travel relatively far in search of nesting locations, access to food and suitable environments, but they are very aware of their surroundings, and we need to trust they know where they are going. If you see a turtle crossing the road, always move in the direction they were heading. If concerned about a particular situation, call a wildlife rehabber.