New Canaan Police are urging residents to be aware of turtles crossing local roads as their nesting season runs through June.
Motorists should slow down and, if they see a snapping or painted turtle crossing the road “you are brave enough to pick one up and move it, send it in the direction it’s headed,” according to Animal Control Officer Allyson Halm.
“Don’t turn it around because it will only turn around and cross the road again,” Halm said. “They are a valuable source to all ponds and are a prehistoric creature we should respect.”
The active season for the common snapping turtle is April through November, according to the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, with nesting from late May through June.
“Snapping turtles rarely leave their aquatic habitat except during the breeding season, at which time females travel great distances in search of a place to dig a nest and lay eggs,” according to DEEP. “Some turtles have been found as far as a mile from the nearest water source. Selected nest sites include banks, lawns, gardens, road embankments, and sometimes muskrat burrows. One clutch of eggs is laid in May or June. With powerful hind legs, the female digs a shallow bowl-shaped nest in a well-drained, sunny location. Over a period of several hours, she lays approximately 20 to 40 creamy white, ping-pong ball-sized eggs. After covering the eggs, the female returns to the water, leaving the eggs and hatchlings to fend for themselves. Turtle nests are often preyed upon by raccoons, skunks, and crows. As much as 90% of the nests are annually destroyed by predators.”
The hatchlings will spread out and “do their best to find a water source,” said Animal Control Officer Sean Godejohn.
“The survival rate is low,” he said.
Hatching itself takes about three months, according to DEEP.
Halm noted that mulch is a favorite habitat for egg-laying females.
If added help is needed for a snapping turtle crossing the road, contact the New Canaan Animal Control at (203) 594-3510.