In May, June and September, be on the lookout for turtles in Dublin. That’s because in May and June, turtles are migrating from creeks and ponds to other creeks and ponds, and females are laying eggs. In September, the babies are hatching.
Turtle eggs are often laid in areas quite a distance from water. Turtle hatchlings emerge from the nest and must navigate yards, parking lots and roads to get to a pond or creek.
You may find turtles on dry land in areas near where they were hatched, often in a garden, yard or a fence row. They may stop in a yard for a day or two and seem not to move. These turtles should be left alone.
However sometimes they make it into our roadways. Most baby turtles, and some adults, cannot climb up the curbs of our neighborhood roads and sidewalks and they could use a helping hand.
Be aware that adult turtles have powerful bites, can kick rather fiercely, and rake their sharp claws. Never stop along a road where it is not safe to do so. Most turtles we come across who may need our help will be seen along our neighborhood streets and parks.
Scoop up a baby turtle into a small container if possible. Use gloves or a towel if possible if picking up the turtle directly. Baby turtles CAN bite quite hard in self-defense, so be very cautious if attempting to pick them up without gloves or a container.
Assist the turtle over the curb IN THE DIRECTION the turtle was trying to go. If you place a turtle on the same side he came from, he may attempt to cross back over. Our goal is to help the turtle along his way, NOT to confuse him or move him from the area that is his home. NEVER move a turtle more than a few hundred feet from where you find it. Moving a turtle “to another location down the road or far away” because it seems safer to us is not legal and often results in the death of the turtle.
If a body of water is nearby, you MAY take the turtle to the bank of the pond or stream. Be sure, if you must cross onto private property, to get permission from the property owner so you are not trespassing. If you are not sure, release the turtle on the public right-of-way headed toward the water source that you can see.
Release the hatchling ON TO THE SHORELINE ONLY. Hatchlings need to orient first and crawl into the water when they are ready. Young turtles may demonstrate a “freeze” response where they refuse to move. Baby turtles are very vulnerable to predators such as herons, raccoons, snakes and large fish. They can remain better camouflaged if they do not move.