10 Things to Do for Turtles
by Barbara DillardSpring and early summer is a time of turtle nesting and babies. You can see turtles walking on the road or turtle hatchlings around local ponds and creeks. However cute they look and no matter how much your child wants to pick them up and take them home it’s not a good idea.
Turtles—sea, freshwater, or terrestrial—are the favorite animals of many people. These attractive creatures continue to beat incredible odds to survive in today’s world of increasing pet and food trade, pollution and shrinking habitat. Here are some suggestions on how you can help those beautiful and important little creatures, which have been part of our ecosystem for a long, long time:
1. Give Turtles a Brake. First, be safe and don’t have an accident; then if possible avoid hitting the turtle. If you can safely stop and you want to do so, move the turtle off the road in the direction in which it was going. If the turtle is a large one, or a snapping turtle, use a stick to nudge him gently across the road without getting too close. Do not pick up a turtle by its tail, as it can cause dislocation of the turtle’s spine.
2. Protect Turtle habitat. Support your local turtle conservation programs. Report any abuse, poaching (of sea turtles, her eggs or hatchlings for example), or any other of your concerns to a local legal agency like Texas Parks & Wildlife department. These activities are violations of
3. Don’t take turtles out of the wild. A game warden will fine you if you get caught. Turtles take up to 10 years before reaching sexual maturity to reproduce. Taking a turtle out of the wild will cause great harm to the future population of turtles. When the population is thinned beyond a certain point, adults are unlikely to find each other for mating. Many turtle species lays relatively few eggs and the hatchlings are very vulnerable during their first years to predation. This means not enough turtles can be produced for the population to survive and the population becomes reproductively dead.
4. Enjoy Turtles in the Wild. Never keep wild turtles as pets or buy them from a pet store. The trade in reptiles as pets is responsible for tremendous animal suffering and serious damage to turtle populations. Learn to enjoy turtles by observing them in their natural habitat, where they belong. If turtles live in your yard, why not keep them happy by building a pond and by landscaping with plants that provide protection and food? Edible plants for turtles include tropical hibiscus, dandelion, geraniums, and Chinese lantern. (Make sure that your plants are free of pesticide and herbicide residue.) Piles of leaves, vines, and downed trees make perfect turtle hiding places.
5. Don't release turtles back in wild. Think twice before buy turtle as a pet. Turtles can live 40, 60 even hundred years. They can grow large and need lots of space to roam or/and swim. This is the number one reason of turtles being released back in wild. Turtles kept in captivity for a while often lose the need for hunting since they have been fed and they will not be able to survive in the wild. An even bigger problem can develop, that is releasing the turtle, even in its potentially native habitat, will affect biodiversity of the pond or lake you release it in. Introduction of parasites and illnesses can wipe out entire fish or other local fauna population. For help, contact your local Turtle Club, Herpetological Society, Wildlife rehabilitator or your local animal shelter.
6. Get Turtles out of
7. Say NO to turtle racing. Turtle racing is an event that is often held for the entertainment of young children at fairs, picnics, rodeos and socials across the
8. Don’t Mess with
9. Spread the Word. Educate others about the importance of protecting turtles from commercial exploitation and abuse in your community and throughout the world. Be a voice for turtles.
10. Join and/or support turtle conservation and educational organizations. You can find and join local Turtle & Tortoise Club/society like DFW Turtle & Tortoise club www.dfwttc.org so you can connect with others with great knowledge about chelonians and help with local efforts to protect turtles. Many other organizations like TSA - Turtle Survival Alliance and World Chelonian Trust www.chelonia.org have a great resources and extensive information about captive care and conservational issues.
1. Box Turtle Partnership of
2. World Chelonian Trust – www.chelonia.org
3. Humane Society of the
4. Turtle Racing in
Barbara Dillard is founder of DFW Turtle & Tortoise Club, Member of DFW Herpetological Society, Member of World Chelonian Trust, and partner of BTPT