As September rolls around, I still see turtles crossing roads in my area. Some turtles are on the move in search of a better habitat, while others are hunting for food, or males seeking mates.

Three-toed Box Turtle Crossing Road
Three-toed Box Turtle Crossing Road

Whenever I can stop safely, I help turtles cross the road, making sure to move them in the direction they were headed. Placing them back where they started will only make them attempt to cross the road again. But, it’s important not to move turtles too far from where you found them, as they have a strong homing instinct and will likely try to return to their home territory, often meeting unfortunate fates like being hit by cars or falling prey to predators while traveling through unfamiliar terrain.

I recently came across a Three-toed Box Turtle crossing the tour road at the Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge in Oklahoma. When I noticed no other vehicles on the road, I stopped and watched the turtle until it moved off the road. Since getting in front of the turtle could make it change its direction, I photographed it from a distance and made sure it continued on its original path.

I used my handheld Fujifilm X-T3 camera with a Canon EF 100-400 mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II lens attached with a Fringer EF-FX Pro to capture some shots of the turtle. Helping these creatures cross the road might seem like a small act, but it can make a big difference in their survival.

Here are some tips for helping turtles cross the road safely:

  1. Be sure it’s safe: Only stop your vehicle and get out to help a turtle cross the road if it’s safe to do so. Pull over to the side of the road and put on your hazard lights to alert other drivers.

  2. Check the turtle’s direction: Before picking up the turtle, make sure you know which direction it was heading. Turtles have a strong homing instinct, so if you move them in the wrong direction, they may just try to cross the road again.

  3. Pick up the turtle carefully: Pick up the turtle gently by the sides of its shell, and keep it close to the ground to avoid injury. Never pick up a turtle by its tail, as this can cause serious harm.

  4. Keep the turtle low and level: Carry the turtle low and level to prevent it from becoming dizzy or disoriented. Try to keep the turtle facing in the direction it was headed.

  5. Place the turtle on the other side: Once you’ve safely crossed the road with the turtle, set it down gently in the direction it was heading, and let it continue on its way.

Remember, turtles are important members of their ecosystems, and helping them cross the road safely is an easy way to protect these amazing creatures!

Here are some more photos I captured of turtles during my adventures:

Camera Settings

  • AV Mode
  • Aperture: f8
  • ISO: 800
  • Shutter speed: 1/2200
  • Focal Length: 400 mm