How to Help a Turtle Cross the Road

It is not uncommon to come across turtles crossing the road right here in Katy, Texas. Unfortunately, it’s a common concern and not just in Katy. The Mid-Atlantic Turtle and Tortoise Society indicates that the death of turtles on roadways is a major contributor to the reduction in the overall turtle population. Many well-intentioned people attempt to help turtles cross the road but may inadvertently harm the turtle.  Armed with a little information, you can be an asset to the declining turtle population. Following are our tips on how to help a turtle cross the road.

How to Help a Turtle Cross the Road: Understand Their Journey

While it’s hard to know exactly why turtles travel and end up on the roads, we do know that turtles are mobile, just like people! They, like us, have a destination in mind when they set out on their journey. Often, they are headed towards a nesting area or are in search of a permanent habitat. Turtles are also known to move from one habitat to another as the seasons change.

How to Help a Turtle Cross the Road: Identify the Turtle

pets katy, txMany of the turtles you come across in the Houston area will be box turtles, but there are others. Depending on your location, you may also come across a tortoise, pond turtle, sea turtle, mud turtle and even snapping turtles.

Each turtle species comes with its own unique needs and handling instructions. For example, Snapping turtles will have to be handled a little bit differently to avoid injury to you and the turtle. If you are afraid to handle a snapping turtle, or any other turtle, for that matter, there are some other ways to help the turtle without touch him with your hands.

How to Help a Turtle Cross the Road: Get Them Off The Road

The Mid-Atlantic Turtle and Tortoise Society and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service share some great tips on how to help turtles should you find them on the road.

Make Safety a Priority

pets katy texasA judgment call is often necessary when deciding whether or not to help a turtle that is trying to cross the road. Good intentions can end in injury, or worse, if you’re not careful.  For this reason, always exercise caution in traffic. Put on your hazard lights to alert oncoming traffic that they may need to slow down. Stay alert as you navigate your way on foot onto any road, but especially main highways.

Observe Before Intervening

If there is no oncoming traffic and the turtle is making his way across the road, let him be. It’s perfectly acceptable to watch from a distance to make sure he makes it safely. Avoid over-handling the turtle.  Over-handling a turtle for any reason is known to “disrupt normal behavior”, which may interfere with the turtle’s chance of survical.

Prepare for Turtle Behavior & Handle with Care

pet sitter katyFirst, you should know that a turtle may urinate when you lift him off the ground. This is completely normal behavior. However, turtles are known to be dropped when this happens because well intentioned good samaritans may not be aware of the likelihood of this occurring.

Furthermore, always use both hands when picking up a turtle. Place both hands on the mid, outer section of the turtle’s shell. (Snapping turtles are one exception to this rule)

If you need to turn the turtle over, never move him side over side. You should always move him head over tail or tail over head. Ignoring these instructions can cause his intestines to twist. This is not only extremely painful, but can also cause death.

Finally, never grab a turtle by his tail because it’s painful to the turtle!  Also, many people don’t realize this, but a turtle’s shell is very sensitive because it is tissue.  This tissue is alive!  Tapping a turtle or dropping a turtle on his shell WILL hurt.

Set the Turtle Up for Success

pets katy texasAs stated earlier, turtles on the move are not just wandering. They’re not nomads! They have a destination in mind. If you send a turtle in the wrong direction not only will you be the cause of disorienting the turtle, you are putting him in even more danger because he will turn back to where he was headed in the first place thereby negating your valiant efforts to save him.

Once you get the turtle across the road to safety on the other side, place him about 30 or so feet from the roadside. Turtles, like any other species, are susceptible to feeling fear and becoming disoriented.  We know that this can result in a turtle freezing or making his way back into traffic, which, again, could negate your efforts.

How to Help a Turtle Cross the Road: Helping Injured Turtles

Never attempt to feed or provide first aid to an injured turtle. Doing so will probably do more harm than good. Instead, do the turtle a favor and take him to a rescue such as the Texas Wildlife Rehabilitation Center. Taking that extra step is impactful towards preservation efforts. 

Keep in mind that rescues such as the TWRC can’t survive with your help. Consider volunteering or donating money and/or supplies to help keep amazing organizations such as these going. With the popularity of social media, rallying the troops towards this cause has never been easier. You don’t have to do it alone!

Animal Admiration Pet Care Services Katy, TX

We hope this post has made you a little more aware of how to safely help a turtle cross the road. Your efforts may seem insignificant, but we assure you, they are not.  Your actions directly impact that turtles life and preservation efforts as a whole.

At Animal Admiration, we love the Houston area, our natural habitat, and native species. As passionate as we are about pets, we couldn’t imagine ignoring a wild animal in need. That said, we are a business built on education, proactive cooperation, and safety and always want to do right by the pets in our care and animals in our environment.

We offer quality care pet sitting and dog walking in KatyFulshearRichmondEnergy CorridorMemorialWest Houston, and Cypress. To learn more about our team and our services, contact us at or (281) 391-1015.




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