Although tortoises can make great pets, there are times when they will be encountered within their natural habitat. Of course, stumbling across one of these slow-moving animals will shed little light on how it came to be there. Perhaps it was abandoned by its former owner or perhaps it has existed in the wild since its birth. The main question involves what steps you should take (if any) if you happen to encounter one while hiking or bicycling. Let’s take a quick look at some expert suggestions we well as when each one should be considered.
All About the Location
One of the things that we should first realise is that tortoises are equipped to survive in the outdoors. However, you will need to take into account where the animal was encountered. If you see one roaming around a safe place (such as in a secluded or a wooded area), leave it alone. Any tortoise that is removed from its natural environment will have a negative impact upon the nearby population, as these creatures take a long time to reproduce. Only interfere if the tortoise appears to be in danger due to its surroundings.
One common example is a tortoise attempting to cross a road or a major motorway. They move quite slow and the chances that one may be hit by an unsuspecting driver are very real indeed. In this case, it is advisable to help it along by picking it up and moving it to the side of the road in the direction that it was initially travelling. However, be sure to face it towards the intended destination. It could otherwise become confused and attempt to cross the road in the opposite direction. Try to place it in an area that is devoid of rocks and other obstacles. Flat and grassy locations are preferable.
Handling the Turtle
Most tortoises are completely harmless although all wild animals should be handled with care. One example which serves to highlight this rule is if you happen to discover an abandoned or otherwise distressed snapping turtle. These are generally differentiated by a noticeably long tail. If the turtle appears to be in danger, never try to pick it up with your hands. Instead, procure a shovel with a long handle. Gently slide the scooping side underneath the turtle and place it out of harm’s way. This will ensure that you are not accidentally bitten during the process. The remainder of turtles can be handled carefully by approaching them from behind and picking them up on either side of their shell. If you are unsure which breed you have come across, it is always best to speak with a professional. Tortoises which are discovered on their backs should be carefully flipped over and once again, you should face them in the initial direction that they were travelling.
When to Contact the RSPCA
There can also be times when the advice of an expert RSPCA representative is needed. This is often the case if you feel that the animal is injured. You can contact this organisation by telephone or via the use of an online enquiry form. A representative will speak with you shortly and in the case of an injured animal, a technician will be sent out to the location in question in order to further evaluate the situation and to determine if any type of treatment is needed.
Although tortoises can handle the great outdoors, there can still be times when they require a bit of help from a human counterpart. Please refer back to this checklist when necessary.