Why Did Our Turtle Cross the Road?

by Barbara Walvoord

 After hibernating in the mud of our ponds and streams all winter, Lathrop’s turtles have emerged, found a mate, enjoyed sex (underwater sex for some species), and now the females are full of eggs.

To heck with water; these babies will need dry ground at first.  So mama turtle leaves the water and crawls to an upland spot to dig her nest and lay her eggs. Sometimes, that means crossing a road.

A car hit a painted turtle on Mulberry Lane the other day and killed it. Here’s what you can do to help our turtles cross our roads:

·         Drive slowly; watch for turtles.

·         Snapping turtle–let it be.  10-20 inches across, and aggressive, they can strike far and bite off  your finger.

·         Not a snapping turtle–it’s okay to pick it up by its shell (not its tail) and carry it (don’t drag or push it) off the road, in the direction it’s already going.  It knows why it’s crossing the road.

·         Lathrop has already stipulated that, if any solar panels are mounted on our east campus field, the surrounding fence must  be raised 6 inches off the ground, so turtles coming up from the adjacent stream can crawl under the fence to lay their eggs. That’s the kind of planning we need at every point–planning that takes into account ALL the creatures who call Lathrop their home and who survive by moving across our fields, our streams, our wetlands–and our roads.

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