How to Move a Snapping Turtle (Day 112)

(The snapping turtle on my in-laws lawn.)

On Friday afternoon, as we were pulling out of my in-laws driveway, we saw a huge, probably very old, snapping turtle on their lawn.

Immediately, we got out and examined it, then called my father-in-law outside to show him.

He wasn’t the least bit surprised by the turtle’s presence.

Next thing I know, my husband, father-in-law and visiting cousin surrounded the turtle with a shovel, a baseball bat and a recycling bin. One tapped the turtle with the bat, which agitated him, and another got the shovel under the turtle’s body and lifted/pushed him into the recycling bin, being held on its side by the third one. Once the turtle was in the bin, they set it upright and used the bat to nudge the turtle upright.

Then, two of them held the bin, while the other one used the shovel and bat to hold down the turtle, and the group of them started to walk away from the house.

My initial reaction was indignation. They were hurting the turtle. It wasn’t causing them any harm and they’d gone and irritated it, possibly damaged it and now were about to take it somewhere else despite the fact that it wasn’t doing anything except minding its own business until we approached it.

Off they went, across the street, through the neighbors’ backyard to the pond where my husband used to skate when he was a little boy.

When they returned to the house, sans turtle, I was too stunned to talk. I know my husband’s family to be respectful of nature and animals, except maybe squirrels and raccoons, who eat both bird seed and garden vegetables without asking. Using a shovel, holding the turtle down, taking him away didn’t seem like the kind way to deal with the turtle.

Of course, I was wrong. They were helping the turtle.

They explained that every year, snapping turtles migrate from the stream behind my in-laws house, up the hill, across the lawn, across the street, across another lawn to the pond behind the neighbor’s house. They were helping the turtle get there faster and not risk getting run over while slowly meandering across the street.

I’ve never been a believer in tough love, but I guess their intentions were good and the result was to the turtle’s benefit.

Still. A shovel? A bat? A hard plastic recycling bin?

Wouldn’t it have been better if they’d used a baby stroller and enticed him into that instead?


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5 thoughts on “How to Move a Snapping Turtle (Day 112)

  1. Hmm, I’ve never encountered a “snapping” turtle. Still, it seems like you could just pick it up and it would not be able to stretch around and snap you. But I’m glad the old turtle got to his pond!

    1. Oh, they are vicious. Snap at you and will bite. They do not like to be bothered. Also, this one weighed about forty pounds and was large, so picking it up, even if it wasn’t potentially dangerous, would be difficult.

      1. Amazing! I would definitely have a hard time picking up a forty pound turtle. Especially if it didn’t want to be picked up. So the shovel, bin and bat were probably the best idea. 🙂

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