I'm going to get up on my soapbox for a minute but this important. Are you ready? Just leave the damn turtles alone, ok? Sure, if you see a turtle crossing the road, help it along - in the direction that it was already headed but beyond that, leave them alone.

 

The Friends of Texas Wildlife recently shared photos on social media of a box turtle that someone allowed their child (I assume it was a child because I cannot fathom an adult ever thinking this is acceptable) to "paint" the shell using nail polish. The post goes on to detail how toxic and even deadly this can be for a turtle,

a tortoise shell allows chemicals to leech into the tortoise’s body. Many paints and nail polishes contain chemicals that are toxic. This can make a tortoise ill or even cause death. Paint or nail polish prevents tortoises and turtles from absorbing vitamins from the sun, and it also destroys their natural camouflage.

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The nail polish has been able to be removed from the poor turtle although she was dehydrated and not in the best health. They believe that she will make a full recovery. While the Friends of Texas Wildlife don't believe it was done with malice or ill-intent but rather by someone who simply didn't know better.

Now, I get it - it's that time of year where people are getting outdoors. They're hiking, biking camping. And that is wonderful! Fantastic! Amazing!! I'm all for getting outdoors and enjoying nature but can we start respecting it?

That cute baby turtle your kids found down by the creek? Leave it there. It doesn't need to come home with you to be the family pet only for your kids to realize in a week that it smells weird because it's a wild animal that you uprooted from its natural habitat to stick in a tiny tank in the corner of a bedroom where it may or may not get the proper food and clean water on a regular basis. It is a living, breathing, sentient being. It isn't a child's plaything and it certainly, should never, under any circumstances be painted, decorated, or otherwise defiled.

And when you've decided that it is just too stinky, and you just can't take the stench anymore so you decide to turn it loose in the backyard, miles and miles away from where you found it, remember that turtles only ever travel a short distance from where they were born and it will spend the entire rest of its life stressed out, trying to find its home. Not to mention that box turtles in particular are considered a protected species in many parts of the United States and in some states, it's actually illegal to possess one of them. So maybe, just maybe, it's best to leave nature alone where we find it. Want to remember it? Take a photograph. Shoot a video of the kids' excitement to see it and share it with your friends on social media, but please, leave the poor turtles where you found them.

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