Tips for Helping Turtles

Learn how to best help turtles.

In Virginia, turtles are on the move from spring through early fall. Many people encounter them crossing the roads or in their own backyards. Learn more about how to best help turtles, including when to call for help, and when to leave a wild turtle alone!

  • Assist turtles crossing the road by carrying them across in the direction they’re headed. Many turtles crossing roads are egg-laden females looking for appropriate nesting sites.
  • Do NOT relocate a turtle to a “better place”. Turtles have small home territories and should be left where they are found. Their survivability depends on it!
  • Don’t ever keep a wild turtle as a pet. If you truly desire a pet reptile and can make all of the commitments necessary to keeping a healthy, happy herp, please look into adopting. Captive-bred reptiles or rescued turtles are available for adoption in the state of Virginia through several different organizations such as Blue Ridge Reptile Rescue.
  • Take special care when dealing with a Snapping Turtle. These turtles may be as much as 19 inches long, weigh up to 35 pounds, have powerful jaws, and a long neck . To handle a large Snapping Turtle safely, avoid the front half of the turtle’s body. While wearing gloves, place one hand on the base of the turtle’s tail – to help stabilize and secure the turtle – and slide the other hand halfway under the turtle’s shell.
  • Watch out for turtles and other wildlife when mowing lawns and doing other yard-work.
  • If you find an injured turtle, put it in a box and contact the Wildlife Center of Virginia or a permitted wildlife rehabilitator. Make sure to record details of the rescue location so that the turtle can be returned there once it has healed.
  • Keep domestic animals indoors or on leashes. Free-roaming dogs and cats injure and kill millions of wild animals each year.  Learn more about the turtles in your area. The Virginia Herpetological Society has great information on Virginia’s wild turtles.
  • Help monitor the declining Eastern Box Turtle population in Virginia by filling out this Box Turtle Reporting form whenever you encounter one!
  • Always wash your hands with soap and water after handling a turtle.

Feel free to share these photos: