MAN INJURED WHILE SAVING A SNAPPING TURTLE!

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teamfamilywall
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MAN INJURED WHILE SAVING A SNAPPING TURTLE!

Post by teamfamilywall » April 10th, 2015, 4:53 pm

We came across a common snapping turtle crossing the road the other day. This is the second time I've had such an encounter. While I was helping it across the road, it tore a small hole in my fingernail with its claws. Any advice on picking up a snapping turtle? I tried to pick it up from the side. Here is the video.

https://youtu.be/jubJ5qnSYaY

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chris_mcmartin
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Re: MAN INJURED WHILE SAVING A SNAPPING TURTLE!

Post by chris_mcmartin » April 10th, 2015, 6:37 pm

Working big to small:

The BEST advice would probably be to not put yourself in a position to get hit by a car, and just hope people keep their eyes open and aren't malicious, and that the turtle makes it. Barring that, post people in a highly-visible place (and out of harm's way) to direct traffic. The way the video looks, someone could've swerved around your parked car, not knowing what was going on, and mowed down a kid. I'm not trying to be melodramatic; it happens, more often than you think (here is a website which lists many such accidents), and then we get laws passed that prohibit touching herps on roadways.

Regarding the turtle itself, use a booted foot and prod it across if you don't have thick gloves/gauntlets in the car. Snapping turtles can slice you open pretty badly.

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Re: MAN INJURED WHILE SAVING A SNAPPING TURTLE!

Post by Mike VanValen » April 10th, 2015, 9:01 pm

I agree with Chris, and I will also add ; a snapper that size can be grasped by the sides of the shell, close to the hind legs, held out from your body, and moved across the road. When I say the sides, I mean four fingers UNDER the edge of the shell, and thumbs on top for support. I cringed when you dropped the turtle. Although the lightning-fast strikes are scary, the turtle will not reach your hands if they are that far back on the shell.

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Re: MAN INJURED WHILE SAVING A SNAPPING TURTLE!

Post by simus343 » April 10th, 2015, 9:40 pm

I work with a particularly nippy Common Snapper at work, and second what Mike said. Under the shell at the hind-legs. I usually stick my fingers up under it in a manner so that it can't slip its feet between my hand and the body and shove out/slash my wrists (she has some super strong legs and sharp-ish claws). I never hold her for prolonged time, ever. Always move from spot to spot as fast as I can to reduce the chance of injury on either party.

Now, I have been nailed by a common snapper before on the hand when moving one off a road. Hurts like a hammer strike with dull razors attached (my heart just about stopped when it happened :roll:), but my hand is still in one piece and I don't have any scar. Wasn't full size but was not a small one by any means. It was about the size of a Desert or Gopher tort for size comparison.

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Re: MAN INJURED WHILE SAVING A SNAPPING TURTLE!

Post by teamfamilywall » April 11th, 2015, 3:39 am

Thanks for all of the advice!

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Re: MAN INJURED WHILE SAVING A SNAPPING TURTLE!

Post by Bryan Hamilton » April 11th, 2015, 9:12 am

Good advice from everyone. It can be hard to accept but its not worth risking your life to save an animal on the road.

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Re: MAN INJURED WHILE SAVING A SNAPPING TURTLE!

Post by teamfamilywall » April 12th, 2015, 6:42 am

Very true. I recently read a news story about a woman who is being charged with murder because she stopped to help an animal cross the road and it caused an accident behind her. I guess you have to protect yourself in more ways than one!

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Re: MAN INJURED WHILE SAVING A SNAPPING TURTLE!

Post by mtratcliffe » April 12th, 2015, 6:06 pm

I've only moved a snapper off the road once, and I wish I knew to grab it further back than halfway when lifting it. Thankfully I wasn't harmed and I don't think the turtle was either. Sure did come close to losing a finger, though.

For larger turtles, you may want to consider dragging them backwards by grasping their hind legs. As far as I know, this does not hurt the turtle - just be careful of their claws. Do not, however, grab them by the tail.

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Re: MAN INJURED WHILE SAVING A SNAPPING TURTLE!

Post by teamfamilywall » April 12th, 2015, 6:21 pm

Thanks for the advice. I have heard that several times now. Grabbing the center of the sides of the shell gave the turtle access to my fingers with its claws. I guess I needed to hold back a little further.

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Re: MAN INJURED WHILE SAVING A SNAPPING TURTLE!

Post by teamfamilywall » April 12th, 2015, 6:23 pm

Several people have also mentioned that you should not grab the tail. Grabbing the tail hadn't even crossed my mind. Out of curiosity, why is grabbing the tail bad? Does it hurt the turtle or the person handling the turtle?

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Re: MAN INJURED WHILE SAVING A SNAPPING TURTLE!

Post by chris_mcmartin » April 12th, 2015, 6:26 pm

teamfamilywall wrote:Several people have also mentioned that you should not grab the tail. Grabbing the tail hadn't even crossed my mind. Out of curiosity, why is grabbing the tail bad? Does it hurt the turtle or the person handling the turtle?
It hurts the turtle...depending on the animal's size, you can dislocate vertebrae (the tail wasn't built for supporting the animal's weight).

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Re: MAN INJURED WHILE SAVING A SNAPPING TURTLE!

Post by teamfamilywall » April 12th, 2015, 6:30 pm

Interesting. Thanks for the info Chris. I now understand why that advice has been repeated so many times! I'm glad I didn't go for the tail.

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Re: MAN INJURED WHILE SAVING A SNAPPING TURTLE!

Post by teamfamilywall » April 13th, 2015, 8:31 am

I have been told that placing a towel over the turtle's head will calm it. Can anyone confirm or deny that. I have some friends who keep spare towels in their car for just such occasions.

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Re: MAN INJURED WHILE SAVING A SNAPPING TURTLE!

Post by Fieldnotes » April 13th, 2015, 10:49 am

Picking it up by the tail is the safest way to move the turtle, you'll be out of the reach of the turtles long neck and dangerous jaws. As far as harming the turtle, doubtful, but certainly being picked up by the tail is preferred by the turtle, than having its shell and head crushed by a tire. Good job & welcome to the herping forum. :thumb:

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Re: MAN INJURED WHILE SAVING A SNAPPING TURTLE!

Post by chris_mcmartin » April 13th, 2015, 11:00 am

Fieldnotes wrote:Picking it up by the tail is the safest way to move the turtle, you'll be out of the reach of the turtles long neck and dangerous jaws. As far as harming the turtle, doubtful
I should've added an asterisk to my blanket statement. It depends on the size of the turtle. Picking up a small snapper by the tail probably won't hurt it. Picking up a 40-pounder by the tail is another story. ;)

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Re: MAN INJURED WHILE SAVING A SNAPPING TURTLE!

Post by teamfamilywall » April 13th, 2015, 1:38 pm

Honestly, the tail looked more ominous with its spines than the shell. So I went with the shell. The snapper I helped was very slow to turn around, so I wasn't worried about the head. Are they able to flip around quickly?

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Re: MAN INJURED WHILE SAVING A SNAPPING TURTLE!

Post by ThatFrogGuy » April 14th, 2015, 8:08 am

I always grasp the tail while holding the turtle out as far away from my body as possible with the other hand supporting the underside. This is the safest, easiest way for both you and the turtle in my opinion. The head can't reach you. It's possible for them to claw you up a little but that's just a risk associated with handling them and if you're just handling briefly to get to the other side of the road I don't think there would be a problem.

The tail tubercles/bumps are not sharp and fine to handle.

-Zach

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Re: MAN INJURED WHILE SAVING A SNAPPING TURTLE!

Post by teamfamilywall » April 14th, 2015, 10:36 am

Thanks for the info Zach! I have watched some videos where people use the underside to support the animal while grasping the tail.

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Re: MAN INJURED WHILE SAVING A SNAPPING TURTLE!

Post by mothman » April 14th, 2015, 11:32 am

I had a "pet" 45 pound snapping turtle (Chelydra serpentina) when in high school many, many years ago. I always picked him up by the very base of the tail with the carapace part of the shell facing away from me. Snappers will instinctively commence swimming movements with their legs when picked up so keep the turtle away from your body to avoid the sharp claws. They will automatically thrust their heads backwards as used in trying to right themselves but they can't reach you if you are holding the base of the tail. Sure you might dislodge a vertebrae from its tail but I don't think that is a life-threatening malady as compared to the road. I almost always stop to help turtles across the road if it is safe to do so.

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Re: MAN INJURED WHILE SAVING A SNAPPING TURTLE!

Post by Noah M » April 14th, 2015, 1:32 pm

I remember a wildlife ecology professor from college saying basically this:

grasp by the sides of the shell, close to the hind legs, held out from your body

I think on larger turtles he even suggested grabbing the hind legs, up by the shell. Almost stuffing your hands into the leg holes. It will help secure the hind legs, support the turtle, and keep your fingers away from the reach of the head.

I would never hold it by the tail, except for maybe like this: http://img1.photographersdirect.com/img ... 362384.jpg

But never like this:
http://fishpittsburgh.com/blog/wp-conte ... Turtle.jpg

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Re: MAN INJURED WHILE SAVING A SNAPPING TURTLE!

Post by teamfamilywall » April 14th, 2015, 3:04 pm

That sounds like it would have been a fun college course! I wish I would have taken a wildlife ecology course! Thanks for all of the info!

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Re: MAN INJURED WHILE SAVING A SNAPPING TURTLE!

Post by dthor68 » April 25th, 2015, 6:32 am

I have handled many snappers and have moved several from the road. The first thing I do when moving any animal from the road is to pull off the road onto the shoulder, with hazards on. I will not stop with people behind me, in that case I straddle the animal and hope for the best. Handling the turtle is very easy, you grab the tail raising the hind end about an inch off the ground and slip your other hand under its belly. As long a you keep the supporting hand/arm in contact with the tail it will not be able to hurt you with hind legs, they do come close. Supporting the animal is made from both the belly and the tail, when the weight shifts, shift it back.

The idea is to work as quick as possible to prevent an accident, if it means picking the animal up by the tail only, so be it. The turtle would be much better off with a dislocated tail than dead. Really, it took you guys waaay to long to move that animal. All it takes is one person that is not in full attention and the situation becomes really bad. Despite that, thank you for saving the turtles life.

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