Turtle in the road - What should I do?

Help it across the road!

Turtle crossing the road

First, be safe, while helping the turtle, busy streets are dangerous for would be rescuers and turtles alike. Put on your hazard lights and pull fully off the road. Make sure other drivers see you, before stepping onto a road.

You mostly see turtles crossing roads between April and October. They do this for many reasons. In the spring, male turtles are looking for females and territory to call their own, while females are looking for places to nest. During the late summer and fall, hatchling turtles are digging up from nests, looking for water and later on males and females are heading to places to hibernate. Sometimes they are migrating to a more suitable spot to live.

For whatever reasons these turtles are traveling, their destination can take them miles away from the water they live in. With greater human development, turtles must cross more roads. We can help them immensely by taking only a few minutes out of our day.

I want to help - What else can I do?


- First, determine if the turtle is injured, if so it may need to be taken to a VET, or to a wildlife center:

200 Westborough Road
Grafton, MA

It is free to take a wild turtle here, but donations are accepted (and greatly appreciated). For more information about injured turtles click here or go to the Injured Turtle link at the top of any page.


- When picking up a small turtle, grasp it on either side of its shell behind the front legs. The turtle will still be able to kick at you, but many will choose to stay safely tucked in, during the short time you are moving them.


- Keep the turtle low to the ground when moving them. Even small turtles have surprising strength. If a turtle pushes free of your grip, you do not want it to fall and injure itself.


- If the turtle is large (with a long tail), it may be a snapping turtle, they can be a bit aggressive and you might not want to attempt picking it up, but you can still help it across the road.


- If you are helping a large snapper, simply push it from behind with a Blunt object, don't use anything sharp or pokey, you don't want to hurt the turtle. Although snappers can seem dangerous, they are just protecting the babies they are carrying, like any wild animal, you need to exercise caution.


- Make sure to put the turtle in the direction it was heading, NEVER TURN THEM AROUND! The turtle is on a mission, and if you turn it around, it will simply go back across the road when you drive away.


- Once you have the turtle across the road, you can sit and watch to make sure it is heading off and not turning back around.


- Although you may be tempted to relocate a turtle, don't. Many turtles have "Home Ranges", a territory they call home, and when relocated, they will search out ways back. Besides risking many additional road crossings, some turtles, if they cannot find their way back will stop eating and just wander listlessly.


This can injure them very badly. If you are not comfortable handling the animal, scoot it into a box and move that way