Turtles are on the move

It is about this time of year that oblong turtles, Chelodina oblonga, start to be seen on land. There is nothing wrong with this, they do it every year. The females will be out looking for a nesting site in which to lay their eggs. And last year’s eggs will be hatching and the young will be making their way back to the water.

In most instances they don’t need our help. They just want to be left alone.

However, there are instances when they do need a bit of help. If a turtle is on the road and at risk of being run over you should help them off. They only need to be moved to the verge on the side of the road. You don’t need to carry them to the nearest water. And always take them in the direction they were headed, even if there is no water that way. If you take them back to where they came from they’ll just get back on the road again.

If you notice that turtles are having trouble negotiating roadside kerbing at the same spot on a regular basis, speak to your local council and ask them to modify the kerbing to make it more turtle friendly. Ask them to replace short pieces of kerbing with a kerb of a lower profile that allows the turtles an easy escape route from the road. It worked for us.

Another time to help is if you see a baby turtle that is struggling to get through long vegetation, around an object¬†or over a kerb. This time you can take them to the nearest water but don’t put them in the water, let them go near the edge and near some vegetation in which they can hide. Having just hatched, they don’t want to be thrown in at the deep end. They want somewhere to hide and rest before they take the plunge in their own time.

If you find an injured turtle you should take them to the nearest veterinarian or to Native ARC. They will be able to offer the best treatment and care for the turtle. But make sure the turtle is actually injured before you interfere. The stress of being taken into captivity can kill the turtles. And females that were out looking for nest sites may become egg-bound and die if they are unable to find a suitable nesting area in time.

The best thing to do if you see a turtle is to watch it from a distance. If you don’t get too close, the turtle won’t get scared, and you’ll be able to watch it carry out its normal behaviour.