Friday, June 8, 2001
Watch out for turtles in the road
You may find turtles on the roadway at this time of year and wondered why they are there. The answer is that they are just female turtles going about their June-time business of leaving wetlands and heading for sandy places to lay their eggs. They leave the water in June, lay their eggs, and return to the water. The eggs will hatch in September and the young will make their way back to the water. All but two Massachusetts turtles are on the endangered species list, the exceptions being the snapping turtle and the painted turtle.
You can protect the turtles by helping them across the road in the direction that they are going. If your turtle is a snapper, and most of them are, proceed with caution. Snappers have a carapace with a saw-toothed rear end and are easily identified. They are not called snappers for nothing, and Linda Cocca , who is on the educational resources staff at Massachusetts Audubon Society in Lincoln, suggests you push them along or lift them with a shovel until they are safely across the road. Alternatively, you can stop and alert other cars until they have crossed. If you are so fortunate as to see them laying their eggs and wish to mark the spot, use a stick, rather than a fence, so the young turtles will be able to get back to the water when they hatch.
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