What if There is a Turtle in My Yard?

Leave the turtle alone and observe!

It may be a nesting female or a turtle on its journey.Try to determine if it is a rare species. If so, take photos and email Groton Turtle Conservation so that proper documentation can be forwarded to the MA Natural Heritage Endangered Species Program.If you see a turtle digging and backing into loose soil in May or June, she is laying eggs that will hatch 90 to 100 days later. Keep dogs away for the approximate 1 1/2 hours its takes the turtle to lay her eggs. She will cover them with soil and leave the nest unattended. Do not disturb the nest or use pesticides or herbicides in that area.Watch for the tiny hatchlings (smaller than a quarter) to emerge and begin their own journey.


What if There is a Turtle in the Road?

First, ensure your and others' safety! Use car hazard lights and/or enlist the help of others passing by. If not a Snapping Turtle, gently pick up the turtle, grasping behind the front legs and carry it low to the ground, off the side of the road in the direction it was facing. Turtles have strong homing instincts and travel to needed habitats, so heading them in their desired direction is key.If a Snapper, do not handle it or pick it up by its tail, which causes severe spinal injury. If you have a snow shovel, gently urge it off the road. Otherwise leave it alone. Snapping turtles have strong jaws that can harm hands when picking them up by the shell.

Injured or Dead Turtle Found

If a turtle is injured, gently pick up (using gloves if available) grasping behind front legs or with a shovel, keeping the turtle low to the ground, and place into a box or back of car on towel or newspaper if available. Contact our website so we may contact a local turtle rehabilitator. or take it to Tufts Wildlife Clinic in North Grafton.


What if I Find a Hatchling?

Turtle eggs hatch from mid-August to early October. The hatchlings are no bigger than a 25 cent piece.  They may be safely moved to a vernal pool, wetland, pond or river edge,  but not directly into any water. Place the hatchlings  where there is good leaf or plant cover to hide them from predators. Hatchlings do not have the same homing instincts as adult turtles, so they may be moved to any safe wetland area in your immediate vicinity.