Turtles-rescued or kidnapped?

When do turtles need to be “rescued”?

  • When they are found with obvious wounds e.g. split shells, bleeding injuries, maggots, or a mucus discharge from the nose
  • When box turtles are found with “tumor-like” growths on the sides of their heads


When do they not need to be rescued?

  • Crossing the road in the spring – just help them across (if you can safely do so) in the direction they were heading
  • Laying eggs in yards, gardens, etc – leave them alone and let them cover the nest.  They will walk away when done, and you can protect the nest with chicken wire to prevent animal vandalism.  This way the hatchlings can dig out.
  • When fishing, if you hook a turtle, try to remove the hook and release the turtle.  If that is not possible, cut the wire as close to the hook as possible and release the turtle. If the hook goes through the mouth and nose as in the picture below, the hook needs to be removed so that the turtle will be able to eat.  If you need assistance in removing a hook or would prefer a wildlife rehabilitator to help then please call us.

Photo Taken By: Cathy Martin


What can you do if someone brings you a turtle?

  • Determine if it needs to be rescued or not – if not, make sure it is returned to the location where it was picked up.  Many turtles have very small home territories and will wander until they find their home.   In Delaware, a road is sure to be in the way!
  • If it does need rehab assistance, contact a licensed wildlife rehabilitator.  Although not all rehabbers work with turtles, most will be able to give you the name of someone who can help. 
  • Make sure you get the name and telephone number of the person turning in the turtle and the exact location where found.  The turtle, when releasable, can be returned to the original site.






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