Here’s What To Do if You See This Animal Crossing a Berkshire County Road
It's springtime in the Berkshires, and it wouldn't be out of the ordinary to see this reptile crossing Berkshire County roads...turtles!
I've come across turtles crossing the road more than a few times around here, and I even had to move a turtle in our Jason St. parking lot a few years ago. But, seeing a turtle crossing the road can leave you with many questions. You don't want to put yourself or other drivers at risk, but you also don't want to see the turtle injured or killed. Should I help the turtle? Should I let him/her be? Should I call animal control? Should I move the turtle to a safer spot?
The first rule is pretty basic: don't put yourself or others in danger. For example, if it's a busy to moderately busy road, don't just pull off to the side and dodge traffic trying to help the turtle. The best thing to do is slow way down and put on your hazards, which will put most other drivers on alert that something is going on.
If possible, the best thing to do is let the turtle cross the road on his/her own. When you make a sudden move or get too close with your car, the turtle might retreat into its shell right there in the road or go back the way it came. Neither of those are good outcomes.
But, let's face it, you probably don't have the time or patience to make sure the turtle crosses safely. So, if you have to move it, and it's safe for you to do so, experts say to:
-Use both hands, and gently grab the middle edge of the shell on both sides. Never grab one by the tail.
-Keep the turtle low to the ground.
-Move the turtle in the same direction it was traveling.
However, beware if it's a snapping turtle (pictured above). Even if you grab a snapping turtle on the sides, it can seriously hurt you with its bite. These guys are fast and their neck length is deceiving, often being the same length as their shell. If you have something to help scoot it along instead of picking it up, this might be the best option for all involved. Or, use two hands and pick it up by the back of its shell on both sides. Again, never grab the tail, as you could seriously injure it.
Also remember, turtles have a keen sense of direction and area, and there's a reason it's moving in the direction it is. Don't move it to what you believe is a safer spot or direction. Simply help it across the road in the direction it was moving, and leave it be after that.
And, most turtles in Massachusetts are protected so you can't "save" them from the road and bring them home as pets. Only the Eastern Painted Turtle, Stinkpot, and Common Snapping Turtle are unprotected, but even with them you need a special permit in Massachusetts.
For more info on turtles, you can also go to: Turtles of Massachusetts | Mass.gov
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