What to do if you find a tortoise in the road

If you spot a tortoise crossing the road, there are a few things to consider before you move it. First, assess whether it is a busy or a remote road.

help a tortoise cross the road

If it is a remote road, like a dirt road, then drive around the tortoise, ensuring that you don’t get too close to it and frighten it. If it is a busy road and there is a chance that other cars may not see the tortoise and hit it, then it is advisable to move the tortoise to safety. Here’s how.

BY Jade Brennan

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4 steps to help a tortoise cross the road safely

Step 1: Safely stop the car and carefully approach the tortoise

Stop your car on the side of the road, or if not possible, stop on the road but put your hazard lights on. Carefully approach the tortoise.

When disturbed leopard tortoises will retract their heads into the shell for protection and make a hissing sound. Do not be alarmed as this is its defense mechanism.

what to do if you find a tortoise in the road

Step 2: Pick up the tortoise using an item of clothing & keep it horizontal

Use an item of clothing to pick up the tortoise (humans can pass on respiratory diseases that could be fatal). Using two hands, hold the tortoise firmly on both sides of its body right in front of its back legs.  Keep the tortoise in its normal walking position (horizontal).

Be aware that tortoises can urinate in fear, and if, in a drought-stricken area, this loss of water can be dangerous or even fatal.

tortoise in the road

Step 3: Move the tortoise away from the road in the direction it was heading

Note the way the tortoise was going and place it away from the road in that direction. Tortoises go in their original direction, so if you turn them around, they’ll go back into the road.

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Step 4: Wash your hands

You can contaminate the tortoise and tortoises can also carry diseases, like salmonella.

For a quick guide on how to move a tortoise crossing the road, watch the video below:

READ MORE: On the Tail of the Tortoise

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