Helping Reptiles and Amphibians Cross the Road

If you do see a reptile or amphibian trying to cross the road, you can help it do so by moving it to the other side. When doing so the first thing to keep in mind is your safety! If you are in a car, you should first safely pull over to the shoulder, put on your hazard lights, and when it is safe to do so, exit the vehicle. When you approach the reptile or amphibian it's important to keep in mind that they will most likely be scared and not understand that you are trying to help them, so they may lash out at you to try and protect themselves. The best way to protect both you as well as the reptile or amphibian is to approach it from behind, as this keeps a safe distance between you and the wildlife's face reducing the risk of it harming you and you scaring them further. Next you want to safely pick up the wildlife and carry it in the direction in which it was already headed, often the reptile or amphibian has a reason for trying to cross the road and if you attempt to bring it back to the side of the road it was coming from they will turn around and try to cross again.

Depending on the species of reptile or amphibian can impact how you pick up the species, to learn the best to handle each watch our summer safety videos:

Turtle Safety- How To Help A Turtle Cross The Road
How To Move Amphibians Safely
How To Help A Snapping Turtle Cross The Road
How To Move A Snake Safely

Helping Injured Wildlife

If you stop for a reptile or amphibian and find it is injured, there are several wildlife rehabilitators that will fix it. A list of these can be found at the bottom of this page or you can 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 reptiles and amphibians. Please note that you are legally allowed to have a wildlife for 24 hours while it is in transit to a licensed rehabilitator.  

When transporting injured wildlife, it's important to remember that they may have internal injuries that are not yet apparent, so handle them with care during transport.

Follow the following steps to keep the wildlife calm and safe:

  • Carefully place the injured animal in a well-ventilated plastic container with a secure lid, and no water.
  • Note the location (road, major intersection, kilometer marker) where the animal was found to ensure it can be released according to provincial regulations.
  • Do not offer any food or water, do not try to treat the animal.
    • For amphibians, put a damp (not wet) paper towel or cloth at the bottom of your transport container, to keep their skin from drying out. 
  • Keep the car radio low and take care when turning while driving to reduce stress.
  • The injured wildlife 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 reptile 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 them to a rehabilitator as soon as possible.

If you are planning on taking any wildlife to a rehabilitator, be sure to call them first. Many wildlife rehabilitators are run 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 an injured reptile or amphibian is coming in. Be sure to record the location where the injured reptile or amphibian was found so it can be released back into its home once it recovers.

Contact these locations for more information on local rescue centres in your area:

Ontario Turtle Conservation Centre
4-1434 Chemong Rd.
Peterborough, ON
K9J 6X2
Sandy Pines Wildlife Centre Inc.
8749 County Rd 2,
Napanee, ON,
Tel: (613) 354-0264
Toronto Wildlife Centre
9am - 6pm, 365 Days a Year
60 Carl Hall Rd., Unit 4
Toronto, ON
Hotline: (416) 631-0662
Leeds & Grenville OSPCA
800 Centennial Rd.,
Brockville, ON
Tel: (613) 345-5520
Turtle Haven & Rescue
Kitchener, ON
Wild At Heart Wildlife Refuge Centre
95 White Rd.,
Lively, ON,
Tel: (705) 692-4478
Rideau Valley Wildlife Sanctuary
North Gower, ON
Tel: (613) 258-9480

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.