Yes, it's a turtle, but WHAT KIND?
June 17, 2013 3:44 PM   Subscribe

What kind of turtle is this? Along with advice on releasing him back into the wild.

So I rescued a turtle from the road. Here he is. And again!

I'd actually moved him the first time and, on a return trip, found him once again basically on the road way, so I decided it was a situation that called for a desperate measure: turtle kidnapping.

However! I would really like to put him back out where he belongs as soon as possible. With that in mind, can you help me figure out what kind of turtle he is, and what environment might suit best?

This is southeastern Virginia, and I found him in my neighborhood where there are a lot of forest/lawn areas, and a small pond.
posted by tooloudinhere to Pets & Animals (9 answers total)
Eastern Painted? link
posted by roofus at 3:49 PM on June 17, 2013

I think you should take him back to the road where you find it; put it across the road in the direction it was heading. If you are worried about it getting hit, move it well off the road. It might have been on the way to lay eggs. I'm under the impression that you shouldn't move turtles unless they are injured.

If you aren't sure, please contact a local animal rehab or sanctuary to see if they will take it. Once when I found a very large turtle that had been hit by a car, it spent months in rehab, but they returned it the same area it knew.
posted by katinka-katinka at 3:57 PM on June 17, 2013 [3 favorites]

Be sure and wash your hands. Turtles are often carriers of salmonella (which is why some places used to ban selling them).
posted by srboisvert at 4:02 PM on June 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

Seconding katinka-katinka: if you see an uninjured turtle on the road, move it to the side of the road where it is heading. It has a reason for going there, and if you put it on the wrong side, it will just try to cross the road again.

Sometimes I regret that I'm an atheist, because I think there should be a special place in Hell for drivers who deliberately hit turtles.
posted by brianogilvie at 4:10 PM on June 17, 2013 [7 favorites]

Done, done, and done. I put him back on the OTHER side of the road, further off the edge, and hopefully that did the trick. Thanks for the note about salmonella, always important.
posted by tooloudinhere at 4:27 PM on June 17, 2013 [2 favorites]

I'm pretty sure he's a box turtle although his shell is kind of dull, but the shape is right and his legs and nose look very box turtley. I see there are some who aren't quite as bright as the ones I'm used to. The only turtles I've ever found outside a pond or river are either box or snapping and he doesn't look like a snapper, for which you may be grateful. Box turtles are really tortoises - they don't live in water - and they like to travel. They're the most common turtle that you're going to find on the east coast on the side of the road. I've found many of them and tried and failed to make pets of some - they always get away, even when you are eight and kindly fill their comfortable cardboard box with delicious lettuce which they will scorn and bits of raw hamburger which they will maybe eat. If you can entice one to live in your garden they eat slugs, which is very helpful. My friend had one who laid eggs in her garden; the babies were the size of those old school Kennedy half dollars and totally adorable.
posted by mygothlaundry at 7:59 PM on June 17, 2013

Seconding box turtle. They're on the move all over the place at this time of the year and they are, as mygothlaundry points out, land tortoises, so there need not be any water around. The snapping turtles are huge (comparatively), flatter and...well, ornery as hell. Like, finger-loss ornery. Leave them be if you can.
posted by jquinby at 6:35 AM on June 18, 2013

Sorry guys, but that definitely is not a box turtle. They have hinged plastrons that allow them to completely pull their bodies inside their shells.

The skin coloration and shell look pretty similar to the red eared slider that I have so I think it is a slider of some sort. It might be a painted turtle too but I don't see any colorful markings on its legs.
posted by nolnacs at 9:55 AM on June 18, 2013

Seconding the part about it being a female turtle trying to lay its eggs.

We have a turtle pond on our university campus. As a good steward of nature, I would notice turtles walking in the road, so of course, I'd pick up the turtles and put them back in the pond. I contacted our biological sciences department (since they are in charge of maintaining and caring for the turtles) and they informed me those were the females trying to lay their eggs on land. My heart sank - I felt awful. All that hard work getting out of the pond, walking across land to be put back by some dumb (albeit well-intending) human. :(
posted by ATX Peanut at 12:58 PM on June 18, 2013

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