I found a tortoise on the side of the road. What should I do?

Turtles and tortoises are an amazing group of animals that inhabit multiple different habitats, live on several continents and even navigate the vast oceans.  North America is home to dozens of unique species, which humans tend to come in direct contact with, on an increasing basis.   There are multiple reasons why there is an increase in human and turtle and tortoise interactions, but the development of roads, highways, track housing and other human developments creates significant situations where we tend to see these animals out on our daily commutes.


I just found a turtle or tortoise on the side of the road… What now?

When you find a turtle or tortoise on the side of the road it can create multiple reactions depending on your opinion of animals or your animal experience.  But, for the most part everyone is quite surprised.  Seeing a turtle on the side of the road is just not something that you see everyday.   Now that you have found the tortoise, the question remains..”What now?”  Below we have laid out some tips to help get you through your unforeseen wildlife encounter, properly.

turlte on road

Where were you located when you found the turtle or tortoise?

Believe it or not, where you found the tortoise may be a good indicator of what to do with the animal.  What I mean is, “are you in the middle of the everglades or are you in downtown Los Angeles?”  If you are in downtown Los Angeles then there is a good chance you have just found someone’s escaped pet and if you are in the middle of the Everglades then you have probably just found some amazing wildlife.   So, contain your excitement and analyze where you have found the animals. If  you have found a wild animal then things can be as simple as safely assisting the animal off the road or guarding the animal as it makes the pass to safety on its own.  But, there may be other things to consider before being the animals friendly crossing guard.


Maybe the animal doesn’t actually need help!

You read that right!  Sometimes we encounter animals and wildlife and they don’t actually need our help.  Perhaps, we just got lucky enough to be graced by their presence.  When this is the case the best thing to do for the animal is to LEAVE IT ALONE.  That’s right, just let it be and the animal will return to what it was doing before your encounter.

Is the turtle or tortoise injured?

Unfortunately, we sometimes find wildlife on the side of the road that has been injured.  Injuries to turtles and tortoises happen all the time and they can happen for all sorts of reasons, like being hit by cars, attacks from other animals, cruelty, and many others.  So, take close look at the animal before touching it.  Does it look alive?  Does it look responsive?  Is there signs of blood?  Many turtles and tortoises that have been hit by cars tend to display cracked and broken shells.   After determining whether or not the animal is injured we can start to determine if this is an escaped pet or wildlife and whether or not, it is a turtle or a tortoise.   If you want to read more about the difference between turtles and tortoises the click the link to read our comparisons article.   If you have determined the animal is indeed wildlife, and not injured, then you may continue to safely being the compassionate crossing guard and help the turtle or tortoise across the street.  If you think you found someone’s pet, please see down below.


The turtle or tortoise on the side of the road is injured.

Unfortunately, there may be opportunities where you do find injured turtles or tortoises on the side of the road.  Without the proper skills to save an injured animal it can be terribly hard, emotional and tiring.  Turtles and tortoises can be exceptionally hard to do first aid or vet work on, due to their abilities to hide inside their shells. So, if you do find an injured turtle or tortoise it is best to check your car for a small, dark, secure box and carefully place the animal in the box until you can call the proper animal health representative or animal official.  This can help prevent the animal from getting further injured or stressed out. Depending on your region there can be many places or barely any places to call. Google is a great tool for looking up local authorities or helpful information.  If you cannot figure out who to call, then dropping the animal off at your local emergency vet or animal shelter would be a great option.

 N P

I’m in a city area and I found a turtle or tortoise!

So, you have read our brief blog above and it turns out you are in the middle of the city and you just found a turtle or tortoise cruising the road.  What the heck should you do now?  Well, do not panic.  You probably just found someones escaped pet and it is most likely a tortoise.  Now, we are not saying that it is not possible to find a turtle cruising the city streets, as anything can happen in 2017.  But, tortoises are a very common pet, that can travel decent distance, are quite active and they are great diggers.  With all that combined, you have a cool little animal that tends to escape from their owners backyards.  There have been multiple Critter Squad Wildlife Defenders staff members who have experienced their pet tortoise briefly escaping, along with countless other individuals.  There are a few options that you can do if this happens to you.


Refer to the beginning of this article and check your surroundings.  Maybe you are in a neighborhood and this little guy just got out.  Knocking on doors and doing your best to ask around to people you see is a great way to try and find an owner.   Putting up signs the same way we would for a lost dog is a great choice as well.  Guarding the animal until an owner comes to look for him are all possibilities. Sometimes you do not have that much time to spare. So, in this case you want to take the animal to a facility capable of rescuing and taking in animals.  There are many facilities capable of taking in animals, including ours.  Again, refer to the above, carefully and safely put the animal in a dark box as you prepare to transport him to the proper place.

I have to rush to work but I just saw a tortoise on the side of the road.


Everyone in life has places to go and places to be and sometimes we see things we just do not have the time to help with.  If you see a turtle or tortoise on the side of the road, but don’t have time to help, then do your best to point the animal out to another person who is capable and willing to help with the animal.

We hoped this blog gave you a better idea of what to do if you find a turtle and/or tortoise on the side of the road. For more info be sure to check out our “how can I be a defender” center on our website.

Check out other blogs here and don’t forget to check out the defender zone.

Thanks for reading Defenders and don’t forget there is lots you can do to be a defender!