What do I do if I have found a Reptile or Amphibian...

  • Photo courtesy of Jessica Weinberg

    Crossing the street?

    Turtles, in particular, can often be found in the middle of the road where they are in great danger of becoming roadkill. If you spot a small turtle or other non-threatening reptile or amphibian in the road, you can help by picking it up and taking it to the side of the road toward which the animal was already heading. Do not attempt to help the animal if it puts you in direct danger of traffic, etc. Bringing the animal back to the side of the road from which it came will only cause it to risk crossing the road again. Hold the animal away from you, as it probably won't recognize your actions as helping and may try to pee on you or bite in self-defense.

    Snapping turtles can be larger and far more dangerous to handle than other turtle species. If you find a snapping turtle in the road, you can help it along to the other side by dragging it backwards from the base of its tail onto a snow shovel, large piece of cardboard, or a large car floor mat so it can then be dragged safely across the street. Stay as far away from their head as possible, and do not attempt to lift them by their shell since snapping turtles can reach their heads around and inflict very powerful bites.

    Do not relocate any wild reptile more than a few feet from where it was found. We may think we know a “good” habitat for these animals, but they know what they are doing and where they are going. Relocated reptiles often die trying to find their way home, and may spread disease along the way.

  • In my house?

    Snakes are the most likely reptiles to find their way into your house. Pennsylvania has only three venomous species, two types of rattlesnakes and a copperhead, all of which can be distinguished by elliptical pupils similar to those of a cat and a head pit between their eyes and snout. If the snake is venomous, it is best to leave it alone, close off the area, and contact your local animal control officer. Chances are, however, if you are a resident of PA, the snake is non-venomous (look for round pupils and no head pits) and can be easily removed from your house by scooping it up in a mesh net, cloth bag or pillowcase, twisting the top shut, and taking it outside where you can then release it.

  • That is a baby/very small?

    Reptiles are independent from the moment they hatch. Even if they are very small, they know how to take care of themselves and should be left alone, unless they are in imminent danger or are clearly injured.

A reptile or amphibian should be taken to a wildlife rehabilitator for immediate assistance if...

  • It has been injured, e.g. from trying to cross the street

If the reptile or amphibian is in need of care from a wildlife rehabilitator, do not forget to keep it in a warm, dark, quiet place until further instructions are given.

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