PhotoHunter: Free

This week’s PhotoHunter theme is “Free”.

For want of anything better, I will post some recent photos which have to do with the theme.

Recently, we rescued two turtles who were crossing the road and in danger of getting squashed. The first we released near a river after taking it for a drive in the car (and getting liberally peed on). The second I wasn’t going to mess with and just rolled it on its back and pushed it to the other side of the road. Snapping turtles are endangered and a protected species.

These are they and they were free to go…

(more on turtle rescue, below the photos)

Blanding's Turtle

Snapping turtle. Just about to flip it...

Last summer….

Painted turtle

Another look at the Blanding’s turtle.

Isn't he cute?

... not so cute....

A few things to remember about turtle rescue…

Firstly, many turtles are endangered and the ones that are not are becoming threatened by loss of habitat. Turtles often have to move across roads to get from one wet place to another, either for mating, for food, or because a pond has dried up or been drained for development.

Thousands of turtles are killed when crossing roads every summer, either when drivers don’t see them or by drivers who deliberately run them over. Accidentally running over a large Snapping Turtle can damage your car, as well, or cause a dangerous road situation. Deliberately killing or harming endangered turtles is illegal and if you see someone do it, you should report them.

It is usually illegal for you to remove wild turtles from their habitat and keep them as a pet. They are important to our ecosystems and should be left where they are whenever possible.

If it is injured, take it to a vet.

Moving turtles is relatively easy but you should always keep your own safety in mind. Be careful when you are standing on or crossing any roadway, especially when visibility is hampered by terrain or weather. If you have someone with you, have them watch for and alert traffic to slow down or stop.

Always make sure that you are putting the turtle on the side of the road that it was heading for and far enough off the road that it won’t try and go back the way it came from.

If you know there is water nearby, take the turtle there and release it near the water (not in it, in case you’ve mistaken a tortoise for a turtle or in case the turtle is injured. You don’t want to drown it!).

Always use caution when approaching a turtle if you aren’t familiar with the various species. Snappers are extremely fast and have a longer reach than you might give them credit for.

NEVER pick a turtle, even a Snapper, up by the tail. You can use the tail to flip a Snapper over but carrying one by the tail can damage the spine. As well, they are heavy and if you drop them, despite their having a thick shell, it can do some serious damage to the shell and it hurts the turtle.

Even if a turtle only breaks the skin if it bites you, the bite can be septic, especially the bites of Snappers. They are carnivores and scavengers. If you’ve ever smelled a Snapper, you’ll know you don’t want one clamping down on your hand…

Small turtles can be lifted and carried easily but watch for claws and jaws. It probably won’t hurt very much but if you are startled by them, you could drop them.

Snappers, if they are small enough can be picked up but you would be wise to wear gloves and, if possibly throw something over them, like a jacket or blanket, just to keep their beak away from you. They have an incredible reach.

Flipping them on their back and pushing them to the side of the road is a good method of dealing with Snappers. Remember to flip them over, again!. I used my car brush to push the last one off the road.

I have used a large piece of plywood to bulldoze a very large one off the road.

I have started carrying a “turtle kit” in the car…. Water (for re-hydrating them and for washing my hands after), heavy gloves, a piece of tarpaulin, and a light snow shovel for pushing them off the road.

Many states and provinces have methods of reporting on-line both rescues and people who have killed or injured turtles. Make a careful note of where you were, the habitat, the description of the turtle, any injuries, and where you released the turtle if you transported it. Get photos if you can. I use Google Maps to pinpoint locations and to obtain the longitude and latitude.

Since I spend many a summer day on the back roads, I have rescued a number of turtles, as well as other animals, including snakes and injured birds. Every animal saved helps make up for the millions that die on our roads every year.

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20 Comments

  1. Katya said,

    July 11, 2010 at 4:23 pm

    A very interesting and educational post! Great for the free theme! My daughter and I recently saw a young lady rescue a snapper that was crossing the road. My, did that critter SMELL!!! She actually put it in a container in her car and drove it over across the road to a small pond. It seemed happy for the ride and made its way to the pond!!!

    Happy Weekend!

    Find my entry here: http://bristolwood.net

    • mudhooks said,

      July 18, 2010 at 12:26 am

      Yes… that is another thing I am thinking of taking along with me on the road… a large plastic container (with a lid) to keep the thing from getting loose in the car…. and maybe a big strong man (handsome, of course…) to help lift is, as well… 😉

  2. stanley said,

    July 11, 2010 at 7:28 am

    kudos to you!

  3. CherryPie said,

    July 11, 2010 at 3:17 am

    What a great idea for the theme. Thank you for such an informative post, I didn’t know any of that before.

  4. Maya said,

    July 11, 2010 at 3:08 am

    Your post has some great information. I’ve never come across a turtle crossing the road–but if I ever do I can use your helpful tips to get them to safety. When on back roads here in Oz you have to keep your eyes open not only for the large animals–emus and ‘roos–that will bound in front of you, but also for the slower stumpy lizards.

  5. noel said,

    July 11, 2010 at 2:29 am

    aloha,

    i enjoyed your turtle post, turtles are very special here in hawaii too and they get very large since they are well protected.

  6. July 10, 2010 at 11:59 pm

    a great post for FREE. I think those turtles are cute.

    • mudhooks said,

      July 11, 2010 at 12:02 am

      The Blanding’s Turtle was certainly a handsome fellow (it was male) and he had beautiful eyes! His yellow neck was such a beautiful colour and seemed so soft (I didn’t try and touch it).

      I wouldn’t call the Snapper “cute” but he (or she) sure had personality!

  7. Sparkle said,

    July 10, 2010 at 11:53 pm

    What a great use of this meme to make a point! We love turtles and hope your message reaches many.

    • mudhooks said,

      July 10, 2010 at 11:59 pm

      Thanks! People rarely notice turtles on the roads and I am always appalled when I see several (even one is too many) run over at the same spot.

      I ALWAYS watch the road when I am near swamps or near waterways.

      There are going to be times when an animal darts or bird flits out in front of your car (I cannot TELL you how many chipmunks have committed suicide by dashing in front of my car!) but if you can prevent a single animal from being killed, it makes life worthwhile.

  8. Annie said,

    July 10, 2010 at 11:07 pm

    I stop for turtle’s too but they are always small box turtles here in NC. Yours are much larger! Wonderful pics.

    • mudhooks said,

      July 11, 2010 at 12:05 am

      I WISH I had thought to get a photo of the really large Snapper I rescued a few years ago (with my elderly mother and her almost as elderly friend!). It was HUGE and lunged and hissed!

      I HAD my calera, too. I just plain forgot until I got home.

  9. July 10, 2010 at 10:24 pm

    toads pee too. . .

    It is amazing how many people there are that stop and move turtles across the road. I do too, so I’m glad to meet another one. I don’t usually take portraits of them, though.

    Even snapping turtles have their own vicious charm and beauty. Truly amazing to think how ancient their blood line is.

  10. azahar said,

    July 10, 2010 at 1:37 pm

    Freed from a squishy fate – well done!

  11. Mar said,

    July 10, 2010 at 1:09 pm

    The painted turtle is very unique.
    Lucky turtles, they crossed your way!

    free

  12. July 10, 2010 at 12:54 pm

    What a handsome fellow! Far better to be taken to a river than stay where it waas. Getting peed n is a small price to pay for a good deed!

  13. YTSL said,

    July 10, 2010 at 10:12 am

    “The first we released near a river after taking it for a drive in the car (and getting liberally peed on).”

    What do the proverbial “they” say about everything good turn deserving another? Hope you are rewarded for your charity in nicer ways than the turtle elected to do so! 🙂

    • mudhooks said,

      July 10, 2010 at 10:14 am

      Well, I think that the turtle was only doing what turtles do to protect themselves when large biped captures them when they are minding their own business.

      And since the pee didn’t smell or anything, I wasn’t particularly upset about it. It smelled a heck of a lot better than the Snapper did…

      And rescuing the turtles sort of made up for having clocked a Mourning Dove the week before, poor thing.

  14. magiceye said,

    July 10, 2010 at 9:30 am

    lucky turtles!!

    good on you to have freed them from near death!


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