by Brian Williamson

As the weather warms up and vacationers begin to arrive, local turtles, especially nesting diamondback terrapins, will be on the move as well. Here are some guidelines for what to do, and not do, if you see a turtle this summer.

  • Be aware of turtles on roadways. If you see a turtle on the road, carry it across in the direction it is headed if safe to do so. For snapping turtles, prod it gently with a stick to encourage it to move on its own, or drag it across using a car mat. Never pick any turtle up by the tail, as this can harm it.
  • If you see a turtle nesting, please watch from a distance. She may abandon nesting if approached.
  • If you find an injured diamondback terrapin, contact The Wetlands Institute- we may be able to help treat its injuries. For other turtle species, please contact a state licensed wildlife rehabilitator-you can find a full list online.
  • If you find a dead terrapin with intact eggs, please let us know, as we may be able to incubate and hatch her eggs artificially in our lab.
  • If you find a turtle in your yard, please leave it alone and enjoy watching it in its natural habitat. Do not relocate the turtle- all turtles have small home ranges and can become confused if moved away from their homes. Wild turtles often die in captivity and it is illegal to take wild turtles as pets in New Jersey.
  • If you find a baby terrapin, release it in some marsh grass or tidal rack near where you found it. Baby terrapins are very capable of surviving with no parental care, and thrive in areas with extensive cover where they can hide from predators.