We get little baby turtles that look like toys or realistic knick-knacks that belong on grandma's shelf waiting to be dusted. If you pick them up you risk them pulling in their tiny head for a long while and at the same time peeing in your hand.
Much of the mud from hibernation has washed off the back of this little guy. You can see that he has already recognized my presence and is beginning to pull in his head. If he totally collapses you can sometime hear a small hiss as he expresses the air from his lungs.
Our turtles come in juvenile sizes as well and some years we can feed them strawberries, melons, and small cherry tomatoes and they will return for several days to the same area for more! They usually live in an area of only 200m. I am guessing the one above is a year or two old since he/she was about 2.5 inches.
This is also a dangerous time for these slow moving prehistoric reptiles. When the rains come they begin exploration and cross our many ribbons of black asphalt. There are nutjobs that actually enjoy flattening them under the tires of their cars as they head to work. Nutjobs for whom this is a challenge. I mean this is not the challenge of hitting a running squirrel or low flying bird. This is like running over a rock! Then there are the distracted drivers that run over the smaller ones by not really paying attention to that small mound paused in the middle of their lane. These two below are 5 or six years old and perhaps ready for reproduction.
Our trip out to shop the other day we pulled (carefully) to the side of the road and being even more careful about traffic moved two turtles across to the side where they were headed for safety BUT we also saw two more a few miles ahead that had met the traffic rush and not survived the wheels of the 3 ton monster.
Diamond-Back turtles that live in Jamaica Bay in New York head for the beach to lay eggs every spring and some of them have to cross JFK airport runways. Since the pilots can prevent turtle kills, I am not sure why the idiot in the car on the way to his job cannot avoid the turtle crossing the road.
While I do not recommend that you pull to the side of the road and risk your life by moving a turtle, I request that you go slower, pump your brake lights to let the person behind you know to be cautious and make every effort to avoid crushing the little guy/gal who cannot get out of the way.
This snapping turtle in the photo below was seen as we left a lodge in the mountains of West Virginia a while back. We actually backed out and went out the entry side of the road since it was early in the morning and there was very low traffic. It is rare to see one this size so close because they rarely leave the water. We had had torrential rains the night before so he might have been washed from his little pond or lake down a ditch and onto the roadway. Since this is a snapping turtle and has a neck that can snake around all the way to his back feet, he would be dangerous to try to move by hand.
As you can see above even those claws on his toes look ominous. (Click on photos to get closer if you dare!)
A few minutes later down the road on our way to bird watch at a nearby refuge we spotted this snapper laying eggs at the gravel at the very edge of the road way! We guessed the rains had indicated this was the driest area for her. This was a very rare treat to see such a secretive turtle lay in the wild. I am concerned about how safe it will be for the little ones when they hatch at the edge of a semi-busy country road.