Toby, 3-toed box turtle

Why did the turtle cross the road?

This is a question many people wonder, especially this time of the year. The simple answer, to get to the other side. What is on the other side you wonder? Spring and summer are the times we see the most turtle injuries due to being hit by cars. The turtles are on a mission. A male may be moving from pond to pond in search of a mate. A female may be looking for prime real estate to lay her eggs. She is often looking for a site with the perfect amount of sunlight and drainage.

Fossil records date the existence of turtles back to 2 billion years ago. The man-made car is a new safety hazard that turtles have not evolved with. They have no instinct to look both ways before crossing the road. We are now in the peak season to be on high alert when driving our roadways. If you see a turtle in the road and are inclined to stop be sure to help it in the direction it is headed. If you don’t, it will turn around and head right back into the street on the path it was originally headed. Be considerate of where you place the turtle; a spot that is not too sunny with some brush cover from predators is ideal. Even snapping turtles can be helped. Avoid an approach from the front or lifting it by the tail. The use of a shovel or a big stick to nudge it along can do the job. You can even use a car floor mat as a sled for the turtle. Nudge the turtle onto the car mat and drag it in the direction it was headed.

If you can’t stop and help a turtle out of the road, drive with caution and drive around them as safely as possible. “Give them a brake” applies to construction workers and turtles!

Free Online Story Books and Activities


Box Turtle at Long Pond

Turtle Coloring and Activity Book

Wild About Turtles!

Why is it called a box-turtle?

What can a box turtle do that makes it rather unique? It can close it flaps. Much like a box, box turtles can close their shell to defend their body. They can pull in their head, tail and all four legs and snap their shell closed. The plastron, bottom of the shell, has a hinge that gives the turtle the ability to close the shell.

Did you know…

Box turtles have a home range about the size of a football field.

Box turtles see in color and have binocular vision (seeing what is in front of them) like humans.

Box turtles have an amazing sense of smell.

 After successful mating, a female may lay fertile eggs for up to four years.

Is it a turtle or a tortoise?

All tortoises are turtles, belonging to the order of Chelonia or Testudines. These animals have bodies encased in bony shells. Are all turtles tortoises? No. Tortoises live exclusively on land. They have hind legs that are columnar, or elephantine, and club-like front legs. They do not have webbed feet that are flipper-like. Tortoises are generally vegetarian, while most turtles are omnivores.