Moving a Box Turtle Could Do More Harm Than Good
Before you go moving that box turtle that you just spotted, read this first. It could do more harm than good to move it.
We've all been there - we're driving along and we spot a box turtle crossing the road. Eastern Box Turtles are prevalent in the eastern portion of the United States, including here in the Midwest. For some of us, the need to stop and help it across the road - and prevent it from being squashed by another motorist - is overwhelming. But there's a right way to help a box turtle (or any turtle really) cross the road.
Obviously, you want to make sure that it's safe to do so to make sure you, yourself don't end up getting squashed. When moving a turtle you find in the road, you should always simply move them to the side of the road. Which side? That's the really important part! Make sure you move the turtle to the side of the road that it was traveling to reach.
Saving a turtle from traffic is really the only responsible reason to move a turtle. Unfortunately, another popular but far less responsible reason is because you or your kids want to claim it as a pet and I get it - Eastern Boxt Turtles are super cute little guys but the truth is, this is heartbreakingly detrimental to the turtle.
According to BoxTurtles.com, these fabulous little quadrupeds are sort of what you might call a home body. Box turtles stick close to home, rarely traveling more than a mile from where they hatched. A box turtle will actually stay in the same area for it's entire life and if they are moved - either by a well-meaning human trying to save them from some perceived danger or to be "re-homed" as a pet, and this can cause much undue stress for the turtle.
Box turtles that were born in the wild and were later put into captivity tend to have a much shorter life span. Worse than this; some people take box turtles from their home and then release them elsewhere into the wild. Box turtles will not simply settle down in a new location if moved. More often than not, they will wander aimlessly; hopelessly trying to find their old home until they die.
If you do take a box turtle home and then decide that you no longer want to keep it, it's imperative that you return the turtle to the exact location that you found it. Of course, the easiest - and most humane and responsible - thing to do would be to leave the turtle where you found it in the first place.
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