It's turtle time! By that I mean this is the time of year when you will find more turtles in places they should not be. Turtles have been known to do some daring stunts during mating or nesting season. That is why they can be found in the road or in front yards where water is close by. It is important to take precautions and be alert, and if you can, help them out!
Snapping turtles can be found throughout North America, extending from Florida all the way to Quebec. Snappers are even the official state reptile of New York! They are usually recognized by their size. Snapping turtles can span from 40 pounds to over 200 pounds depending on the species. These freshwater turtles commonly inhabit lakes, marshes, or ponds, which might explain why they travel into backyards. Snapping turtles are greenish or brownish in color, making it easier for them to blend in to their surroundings.
So why are snapping turtles so crabby? Due to their longer necks and smaller area of protection provided by their shell, the turtles have to have another means of defense. This comes from the pointed tip of their beak that pierces the skin as it clamps down.
So what do you do if you see one crossing the road? First, never lift or pull a turtle by its tail! This can permanently dislocate its vertebrae! If possible, call a professional. If time is of the essence, the recommended way to handle a snapper is to grab the shell at the top lip behind the head and the bottom lip above the tail. It is important to relocate the turtle in the same direction it was going, in order to prevent it from trying to cross again!
Be aware and always respect these cool creatures!
Fun fact: snapping turtles were once referred to as "Ograbmes" in a political cartoon from the 19th Century.