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Pet Talk: Why did the turtle cross the road?

Callie Rainosek
If you come across a turtle in the road while driving, the turtle may benefit from a helping hand.

Have you ever wondered why turtles cross the road? There are a few reasons why these slow-pokes venture into the street, but no matter their agenda, we should be cautious of their presence while driving.

“Turtles often cross the road after rain events,” said J. Jill Heatley, associate professor at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences. “Additionally, many times they are female turtles seeking an appropriate place to lay their eggs.”

 

If you come across a turtle in the road while driving, the turtle may benefit from a helping hand to get to safety; however, Heatley said to be careful in doing so.

“If you can pull safely off to the side of the road and traffic permits, you can safely move the turtle to the side of the road in the direction it was headed,” Heatley explained. “If the turtle is injured, you can also take the turtle to a rehabilitator or veterinarian for care.”

Even if traffic permits you to save a turtle’s life, you should be careful handling certain turtles for your own safety. Heatley said some turtles, such as the alligator and common snapping turtle, can injure a person by biting or jabbing at them with the rear of the shell.

“Only experienced individuals should handle these animals,” Heatley said. “But in the case of box turtles, soft-shelled turtles, and slider turtles, they may be safely handled by grabbing the rear of the shell while wearing lightweight gloves.”

If the turtle needs to be taken to a veterinarian, it can be placed in a cardboard box. Otherwise, Heatley said uninjured turtles should remain in the wild to live their lives and breed.

Though wild turtles may need our help every now and then, you should not risk your own life to save a turtle. If you do see a turtle crossing the road, drive cautiously and stop to help, if needed.

Pet Talk is a service of the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, Texas A&M University. Stories can be viewed on the web at vetmed.tamu.edu/pet-talk. Suggestions for future topics may be directed to editor@cvm.tamu.edu.

Keep your dogs safe this summer

Spring is lingering, but summer weather is already making its way to Southwest Florida. High temperatures outside mean even higher temperatures in your car. To that end, Collier County Domestic Animal Services is asking pet owners to consider leaving your animal at home while you run your errands.

Many people think a dog is safe in a car with the windows cracked, but this is not the case. When temperatures hit 85 degrees outside, the temperature inside a car can soar up to 102 degrees within 10 minutes. Within 30 minutes, temperatures may rise to 120 degrees.

Even if you are making a quick trip to the grocery store, it still may be too long for your dog to endure the heat.

Dogs do not sweat like humans. They must rely on panting to cool down and therefore their body temperatures tend to rise rapidly. A dog’s normal temperature is between 101 to 102.5 degrees; a dog can only resist a high temperature for a short amount of time before damage from overheating becomes irreversible. Health problems caused by overheating include nerve damage, heart problems, liver damage, brain damage and even death, sometimes in a matter of minutes.

Here are some signs a dog may be over heating: excessive panting and/or drooling; increased heart rate, trouble breathing, disorientation, stumbling or poor coordination,

diarrhea or vomiting, collapse or loss of consciousness, seizure or respiratory arrest.

If there is any chance your dog may need to stay in a hot car, leave him at home. It’s better to have your dog in a safe, cool place than to risk your pet’s health and well-being in an overheated car.

If you see a dog in a hot car, call Collier Domestic Animal Services at 239-252-PETS (7387) or the Collier County Sheriff’s Office immediately.