Thursday, October 29, 2009

Why did the Box Turtle cross the road?

Every summer B and I stop the car and remove turtles from the road. We save about twelve a year. They move so slowly that many of them get hit. Why can't people be careful and avoid them? Usually I move the turtle off the road in the direction he/she was going. When I approach the turtle he usually pulls his head in and closes up. Not this one! He put on a burst of speed and crossed the road by himself! You can see that he is actually blurred in the picture. I was lucky to have my camera with me.

Actually I think it is a she because of the height of the shell. Boys have a high dome shaped shell.
After she moved into the woods, she closed her shell and dismissed me.

Here is some information from a web site about Box Turtles.

"Box Turtles are some of the longest lived and slowest reproducing species in the world. Although still fairly common over much of their range, their future is uncertain. Box turtles are slow growing, have few young, and have exhibited delayed sexual maturity. These qualities make them particularly susceptible to damage due to human activities.

"Box turtles may also wander out of their isolated habitats into the matrix (the land used by humans), where they are particularly susceptible to accidental death due to humans. Each year countless box turtles are hit by cars or trains when they attempt to cross roads or railroads. Others are accidentally killed by lawn mowers, tractors, and farm equipment.

"Another concern is the capture of box turtles for the pet trade. The impact of taking turtles from the wild can be devastating to local populations. Over the span of their lifetime, female turtles will lay hundreds of eggs, but only 2-3 of these offspring will survive to adulthood. These offspring will eventually replace their elderly parents, allowing the population to remain at a stable size. But, if box turtles are taken from the wild to become pets, or are killed by human activities, they are removed from the overall breeding population, the number of offspring drops, and the overall population declines.

Additionally, box turtles have a homing instinct that causes them to try to return to the place of their birth if they are moved. As a result, when box turtles that have been taken as pets are returned to the wild, they will head straight for their natal grounds. This journey causes the turtles to encounter many dangers, such as roads, predators, and humans. For these reasons, if you are looking for a pet, you should try to find a captive-bred animal or consider a different pet."

If you see a turtle in the road, please help him/her get to the other side. But if it is a huge snapping turtle, "assist" it with a long stick or shovel.


Anonymous said...

We used to live by an inland lake and there were always turtles on the road. I think it's great that you and your husband stop and help them. What I can't understand is why do they feel the need to cross the road in the first place?


Struggler said...

I'm learning so much from you! I had no idea these guys roamed around in the wild - I think in the UK they are always pets.
The biggest issue where we (now) live are Canada geese in the road - poor turtles probably take longer to cross and are far less easy to see.