Wildlife: Turtles

Are you experiencing an issue with wildlife in your area?  If you have an urgent concern, please get in touch with us right away.  If you are looking for more information, please click on one of the questions below to expand the content and find your answer.  If you have any additional questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to our team at DFW Wildlife Coalition.
I found an injured turtle!
Please reference our “Quick Tips” located in the upper right corner of our website for instructions on containing, transporting, providing life saving heat, and finding a wildlife rehabilitator.
How to identify the species of a turtle

To identify a Texas turtle please go to these links:

TPWD – Turtles: Aquatic or Terrestrial?

Austin Reptile Service

What to do to help a turtle

Tips for Helping Turtles:

  • Assist turtles crossing the road by carrying them across in the direction they’re headed. Many turtles crossing roads are females looking for a nesting site.
  • Do NOT relocate a turtle to a “better place.” Turtles have small territories and should be left where they are. Their survival depends on it.
  • Don’t keep a wild turtle as a pet.
  • Take special care when dealing with a Snapping Turtle. They can be as much as 19 inches long and weigh up to 35 pounds. They have powerful jaws and a long neck. To handle a large Snapping Turtle safely, avoid the front half of the turtle’s body. While wearing gloves, place one hand on the base of the turtle’s tail (to help stabilize and secure the turtle) and slide the other hand halfway under the turtle’s shell.
  • Watch out for turtles and other wildlife when mowing lawns and doing other yard work.
  • If you find an injured turtle, put it in a box and contact the hotline. Make note of the location where you found it so it can be released back there once it has healed.
  • Always wash your hands after handling a turtle.
Box Turtles

Box turtles were once abundant throughout Texas, but the population has declined likely due to loss of habitat and pet trade. Texas Parks and Wildlife is tracking Box Turtle sightings to better understand and manage the turtles. You can help by filling out the report if you see a box turtle.

1. Box Turtle Sighting Report
2. Box Turtle Sighting Report

Other Interesting Box Turtle Facts:

  • There are two species of box turtles found in Texas: the eastern box turtle and the ornate box turtle, each which have subspecies.
  • Box turtles live throughout Texas, but each subspecies generally occupies a different area of the state.
  • The desert box turtle inhabits the southwest; the three-toed box turtle inhabits the eastern portion of the state; the ornate box turtle is generally throughout the state.
  • Box turtles are omnivorous. They will eat insects, snails, slugs, fruits, berries, plants and sometimes dead animals.
  • Their shell is hinged, which allows them to completely shut their shell when threatened.
  • Box turtles have a very small territory and should never be removed. If they are removed, they generally do not recolonize that area. They will wander around aimlessly and hopeless trying to find their old home until they die.
  • Box turtle take 5-10 years to reach maturity and produce relatively few offspring, which also contributes to the declining population.
  • Box turtles lifespan can be up to 50 years.
What to do when you see a turtle crossing the road
In late spring and early summer turtles are seen on our roadways as they search for mates and or nesting sites. All too often they are hit by automobiles. Provided you can safely do so, make sure you look both ways, help the turtle cross in the direction the turtle was headed. It may not make sense; however, if you do not, the turtle will try to cross the road again. Never pick the turtle up and transport to a new location.

The following video illustrates ways to help a turtle across the road.