Why Does a Turtle Cross a Road


Why does a turtle cross a road?

Incorrect answer: To find a shell station – that’s the wrong answer.

I’m helping out a turtle in Mexico

Correct answers: To find a mate, to lay eggs in what is deemed a more appropriate spot or to find another body of water. And some turtle species migrate.

Increasingly, communities, such as Elk Grove Village, IL now have signs for drivers to aware of crossing turtles. That’s great, and if you come across a turtle crossing a road, here are some tips:

  • If they’re not in danger, don’t help. Stop your car to protect the turtle, but allow the turtle to cross without your hands-on assistance.
  • If you must pick up a turtle, gently hold it along the shell edge near the middle of its body. Most turtles will express fear and displeasure by relieving their bladders. This is meant to be surprising to keep predators away, but it may also surprise you; be careful not to drop the turtle. Dropping a turtle can cause great harm to the turtle.

    Sometimes turtles do take a minute to cross, or to do anything

  • If it’s injured, take it to a wildlife rehabilitator with turtle experience.
  • If you are picking up the turtle, move it to the side of the read the turtle is headed. Otherwise, if you return it to the wrong side, the turtle will likely just try to make the same journey again.
  • Don’t’ take the turtle to the nearest body of water, that may not be where the turtle is headed. If you move the turtle just deliver the turtle to the other side of the road and watch for a moment just to insure the turtle doesn’t return to the road.
  • Don’t pick up a snapping or softshell turtle unless absolutely necessary because they bite. Picking a turtle by the tail may protect you but cause serious injury to the turtle. If you decide to risk picking up a snapping or softshell turtle, grab it by one rear leg while your other hand supports it from below. Far better yet, get the turtle on something like a flattened cardboard box and drag him backwards across the street in the direction the turtle was headed. Remember an adult snapping turtle might take off a finger or even a hand.  Tips on moving a snapping turtle are shown in this video.