As the weather warms up and as rain continues to fall, you can expect to see more turtles crossing the roads.
There are a few reasons turtles will be much more visible to drivers.
One is that spring floods cause many turtles to move from one body of water to another, said Charlie Lee, extension specialist in wildlife control and instructor at Kansas State University. The other is that late spring and early summer is prime turtle breeding season.
“Many are moving around as they look for nesting sites, which are a little further distant from water than where they may normally be found,” Lee said.
Females are looking for places to lay eggs as males are looking for females, said Marc Murrell with the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism at Wichita’s Great Plains Nature Center.
“It’s the same reason we see more deer in November,” Murrell said. “It’s turtle breeding season through April, May and June.”
Turtles in Kansas include red-eared sliders, painted turtles, common snapping turtles, common box turtles and three-toed box turtles.
“And as temperatures warm up, these turtles become more active because they are cold blooded,” Murrell said.
If you see a turtle on a road, don’t swerve to miss it or get out of your vehicle to move it out of the road, Murrell said.
If there is no way to avoid the turtle he said the best advice he can give is to hit it. However, if a driver can safely slow down to avoid hitting the turtle, that should be the choice they make.
“Just don’t swerve,” Murrell said. “More often than not someone will be injured or killed trying to swerve to save an animal.
“It’s the same advice we give about baby birds; just let nature be wild,” Murrell said. “Nobody likes to kill turtles, but I value human life over a turtle’s life.”
Turtles pose minimal risks to people, both Murrell and Lee said.
“Turtles, just like any other type of wildlife, may bite or scratch if you pick them up,” Murrell said. “I don’t advise doing that.”
Lee also advised not to handle the turtles. They may have picked up salmonella, which can be transferred to humans.
If you find a turtle in your yard, there is no need to report the sighting to anyone.
“Just enjoy it,” Murrell said. “And if you have kids, let them look and teach them about the turtles and what they are doing. This is an opportunity to observe nature and wildlife up close.”