Discover Nature: Give Turtles a Break

May 30, 2017

Slow and steady wins the race, but when it comes to crossing roads turtles often lose. This week, as you’re driving down the highway or back roads, keep your eyes peeled for turtles in your path.

Spring rains and warm weather trigger turtles to start wandering in search of food and mates. When driving on Missouri roads, keep an eye out for these innocent travelers and give turtles a brake.
Credit Missouri Department of Conservation

Spring rains and warm weather trigger turtles to start wandering in search of food and mates, and they often need to cross roads that pass through their home areas.

Box turtles commonly live to thirty years old, and can live as along as humans. They spend their quiet lives eating plants, earthworms and insects.

A hinged lower shell allows these reptiles to completely encase their head and legs, providing a protective, bony shield. This simple, passive defense protects box turtles from most natural enemies, but cars and trucks needlessly kill thousands of turtles each year. In fact, automobiles are probably their biggest cause of death. The next time you drive through the countryside, please be alert to avoid hitting these innocent travelers.

Learn more about Missouri’s turtles and how you can help them with the Missouri Department of Conservation’s online field guide.

Discover Nature is sponsored by the Missouri Department of Conservation.