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Turtle Resources

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Helping a Turtle on the Road

Small turtles can be picked up easily by holding both sides of the shell with your thumb on top of the turtle's carapace (upper shell) and your fingers on the bottom of the turtle's plastron (belly shell). Hold the turtle's belly away from you because frightened turtles may nip and some will pee when they are scared. Although all turtles have the capacity to bite, most will simply hide in their shells. Snapping turtles are the exception - they will try to snap at you and scare you away. Remember that the turtle does not know you are there to help and is often very frightened, thinking you are a large predator. Carry the turtle close to the ground, it may claw and squirm when picked up and you don't want it to fall very far if it wiggles out of your hands. Be sure to move the turtle to the other side of the road in the direction that it was headed; otherwise it will turn around and try to get there on its own again.

What you need to move a turtle across the road:
  • To move a small turtle:
          - Garden gloves or work gloves to pick up the turtle
          - OR a towel to wrap over the turtle while you pick it up
  • To move a Snapping Turtle:
          - A shovel to slide under the turtle
          - OR a 2'x3' piece of plywood to slide under the turtle
          - OR a car floor mat to slide under the turtle
    To see examples on how to move a Snapping turtle, check out our short video here!

    Helping an Injured Turtle

    If you stop for a turtle and find that it is injured, there are a number of wildlife rehabilitators that will take it in and fix it up. A list of these can be found at the bottom of this page. You are legally allowed to have a turtle for 24 hours while it is in transit to a licensed rehabilitator. Remember that the turtle may have internal injuries that are not yet apparent, so handle with care during transport. Keep the car radio low and take care turning while driving to reduce stress to the turtle. During this time keep the turtle dry and warm. Do not place it in water or offer it anything to drink or eat. The turtle should be kept at room temperature, around 18-22 degrees Celsius. If it is in your car, place it in an area away from the air conditioning vents. If the turtle has died, but you believe it still has eggs inside, many rehabilitators will remove the eggs and incubate them artificially. The eggs can survive in a deceased mother if they are not exposed to extreme temperatures, so it is still worth it to try and get the turtle to a rehabilitator as soon as possible. If you are planning on taking a turtle to a rehabilitator, be sure to call them first. Many function only with volunteer staff and may not be available if you show up unexpectedly. Your call will also give them a chance to let their veterinarians know that a turtle is coming in. Be sure to record the location where the turtle was found so it can be released back into its home once it recovers.

    What you need to take an injured turtle to a wildlife rehabilitator:
  • For a small turtle:
          - A small container/ bucket/ cooler that the turtle can be placed into
                . 1' long is big enough
                . This should be opaque and not clear so that the turtle feels secure
                . You should drill air holes in the top to ensure adequate ventilation
                . Avoid cardboard boxes, they can get soggy and rip
          - A towel that can be placed in the box so that the turtle does not slide around while you are driving
  • For a Snapping Turtle:
          - A large container/ bucket/ cooler that the turtle can be placed into
                . 2' long is big enough
                . This should be opaque and not clear so that the turtle feels secure
                . You should drill air holes in the top to ensure adequate ventilation
          - A towel that can be placed in the box so that the turtle does not slide around while you are driving
          - Duct Tape to secure the lid of the container
  • For a deceased turtle with eggs:
          - A container appropriately sized that the turtle can be placed into
          - A towel to place in the container that will keep the turtle from sliding or rolling
                . Excess movement or jostling can affect the attachment of the embryos within the eggs
          - OR wrap the turtle in newspaper or a towel
          - A small Tupperware to place any loose eggs into
                . Paper towel or newspaper should be loosely packed inside to keep the eggs from rolling

    By keeping these supplies in your car you will be well equipped to help turtles you may encounter while driving. You can take injured turtles to the following centres in Ontario. Contact these locations for more information on local rescue centres in your area:

    Kawartha Turtle Trauma Centre
    4-1434 Chemong Rd.
    Peterborough, ON
    K9J 6X2
    www.kawarthaturtle.org
    Sandy Pines Wildlife Centre Inc.
    8749 County Rd 2,
    Napanee, ON,
    Tel: (613) 354-0264
    www.sandypineswildlife.org
    Toronto Wildlife Centre
    9am - 6pm, 365 Days a Year
    60 Carl Hall Rd., Unit 4
    Toronto, ON
    Hotline: (416) 631-0662
    www.torontowildlifecentre.com
    Leeds & Grenville OSPCA
    800 Centennial Rd.,
    Brockville, ON
    Tel: (613) 345-5520
    leedsgrenville@ospca.on.ca
    Turtle Haven & Rescue
    Kitchener, ON
    uros@sympatico.ca
    www.turtlehaven.ca
    Wild At Heart Wildlife Refuge Centre
    95 White Rd.,
    Lively, ON,
    Tel: (705) 692-4478
    www.wahrefugecentre.org
    Rideau Valley Wildlife Sanctuary
    North Gower, ON
    Tel: (613) 258-9480
    www.rideauwildlife.org


    You can also contact your local Ministry of Natural Resources office for a list of authorized wildlife rehabilitators in your area.

    Please note that the Toronto Zoo does not take in injured or unwanted turtles.