I found an injured turtle! What do I do?

The most common situation where you are going to find an injured turtle is along the side of a road. For many reasons turtles find themselves needing to cross busy roads and too frequently this is where their journeys end. You can help. A turtle is a very strong animal (a species cannot survive 280 million years otherwise). Do not assume because the turtle is not moving it is dead. There are good reasons to get them to an emergency wildlife center, alive or even dead.


It is difficult to tell if a gravely injured turtle is still alive (even for experts).


Turtles, especially during the spring and early summer, may be carrying eggs that can be saved even if the mother cannot.


A mortally wounded turtle can live for hours and longer after the fact. It is a great kindness to get them off the hot street.
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Find your nearest wildlife rehabilitator

*Please note these rescue centers are native turtles only and do not work with pet turtles

Transporting injured turtles

Depending on the severity of the injuries, generally the best choice is a box with a damp towel (dampened paper towels can work too). You want to keep the turtle cool and in the dark. This will keep the turtle as calm as it can be during transport.

Never transport a turtle in water.
The turtle may drown!

If you have latex gloves, wear them, if not, washing up well after or using hand sanitizer will keep you safe. If you are regularly helping turtles, keep a "turtle kit" in your vehicle. A kit should contain a box for transporting turtles (use a folded down cardboard box to save room), an old towel, bottled water (for moistening both towel and turtle as needed), gloves (latex for handling hurt or small turtles) and/or leather garden gloves (if you are dealing with a large or feisty turtles), hand sanitizer (for you and the turtles protection).

Handle an injured turtle as little as possible. Stress and the danger of causing harm to an unseen injury will endanger the turtle. A stressed and injured turtle may bite. Stay clear of its head when handling. Be aware of what species of turtle you are helping, a snapping turtle can cause injuries if not handled carefully.

The turtle rescue league to the rescue!