Ask a Ranger: Why did the turtle cross the road?

Jul. 06, 2013 @ 04:49 PM

To get to the other side. Can you believe it? But it’s true! Many of us see an increase in turtles crossing the road from late spring to mid-summer. The increase in turtle crossing during this time is due to turtles looking for prime real estate for nesting.

Turtles, which are reptiles, lay eggs. During this  time of year, what you are predominantly seeing is females crossing the road in search of the perfect nesting habitat.  Additionally, you will see many a turtle “sitting” or resting on the road. Because turtles are reptiles, they have to regulate their body temperature differently. 

Unlike mammals which self-regulate their body temperature, reptiles are exothermic, or cold-blooded, which means they use the environment around them to adjust their body temperature. These turtles you see are sunbathing, warming their bodies up for the day. 

However, resting and crossing roads puts these turtles in harm’s way. While their shell is a great defense to keep away predators, it is no match for a car. If it is safe to do so, you can help the turtles in the road by moving them off the road, preferably in the direction they were going. 

If it is not safe, then try to drive around the turtle. Not only would this help the turtle, but although the turtle shell is not strong enough to withstand a vehicle tire, it can do damage to your tires. 

Please be kind, as we share this world, not own it. 

As always, programs for the public are free, which means you get into the park for free if you participate in a ranger program that day. 

July programs:

July 9 — Reading with a Ranger at the Warren County library, 10:30 a.m.

July 13 — Animal charades at the Nutbush shelter, 2 p.m.

July 14 — Kerr Lake Bingo at the Nutbush shelter, 1 p.m.

July 16 — Reading with a Ranger at the Oxford library, 10:30 a.m.

July 16 — Reading with a Ranger at the Henderson library, 3 p.m.

July 18 — WIZS-1450 AM Ask a Ranger radio show, 4:30 p.m.

July 27 — Wildflower workshop at Area 3 Nutbush butterfly garden, 10 a.m. (Bring your gloves and trowels!)

July 28 — Hike with a Ranger at main office, 10 a.m.

Questions and comments can be emailed to Jessica.b.williams@ncparks.gov.