Monday, April 14, 2014

Help Turtles Cross the Road

How to handle a Snapper

When handling any live animal, it is important to always keep two safety issues in mind: first is the safety of the person who is searching for or holding the animal, and second is the safety and welfare of the animal itself.
It is a common misconception that a Snapping Turtle may be safely picked up by its tail, with no harm to the animal; in fact, this has a high chance of injuring the turtle, especially the tail itself and the vertebral column. A handler must also be wary of injury to themselves. Snapping turtles are aptly named, as they can snap with amazing speed and power; a full grown snapper can easily nip off a finger. The safest method, of course, is to avoid handling a snapper at all. If moving it is absolutely necessary, scooping and lifting the turtle just off the ground with a shovel (especially a snow shovel), if done quickly, may be safest and easiest for all concerned parties.
Lifting the turtle with the hands is difficult. Some snappers can stretch their necks halfway back across their own carapace. Manual lifting (which should be done only if no other options are available) is best accomplished by sliding fingers behind the turtle's hind legs, with the tail between the hands and gripping the turtle between the fingers and thumbs. The handler then proceeds to lift the turtle only just off the ground. The turtle will probably squirm and try to dislodge the handler's hands with its hind legs. Even a small snapper is relatively powerful for its size, with long sharp claws; further, due to their aquatic inclinations these turtles are often slimy and wet, and they are good at causing prospective handlers to lose their grip. In any case that a snapping turtle must be handled, it is best to have the turtle on the ground or very close. Wild turtles may be covered with a smelly pond slime and may also defecate, urinate, or musk on a handler.

More information HERE.

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