Tuesday, April 3, 2012

I dislike driving in the springtime.

It should be pure bliss - driving with the windows down, smelling all of the fragrant flowers.
But all is ruined when I see some hapless turtle trucking as fast as his stubby little legs will carry him across the road. Or worse, frightened out of his mind and shut up tight in his shell.

In case you are simply dying to know why there is such a huge influx of road crossing turtles,  here is the answer you have been searching for, courtesy of the MDC box turtle site:

Research has shown that road-crossing box turtles are typically young (not yet sexually mature) turtles or young adult male turtles. Adult females and older males make up but a small percentage of these wanderers.
So the question, "Why does the box turtle cross the road?" can be answered two ways. Immature turtles are establishing their own home ranges--wanderlust, in other words. Young adult male turtles are out looking for mates. 
Unfortunately, many thousands of these wanderers are killed by vehicles.
While some collisions are unavoidable, drivers who watch both the road and their speed can spare box turtles. Remember, if you see one turtle crossing the road, you'll likely encounter more. The main cause of mortality in adult box turtles, other than vehicles, are sudden freezes early or late in the year.

When I was younger I was constantly swerving off the side of the road to jump out and assist turtles to safety. I found (by watching my mother do the same thing) that by holding onto a snapping turtle's tail you could pull, while simultaneously spinning in circles across the road and thus avoid getting snapped. Now that I have little kids in the car I have a harder time justifying leaving them on the side of the highway while I risk traffic to rescue a turtle. Now I just wince and check for smushed shells on the way home.

Occasionally on the back roads I can still find a safe spot to pull over and do my reptilian friends a favor. And it improves my view on matters tremendously. That same turtle may immediately get predated, but I am still satisfied. I did my civic duty.

So next time you are out driving keep your eyes peeled for all of those little round shells. And if you don't have precious children on board go ahead, swerve (safely) to the side of the road and perform a turtle rescue operation. You will feel so proud.


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