Saving turtles from the road

In East Cobb they are CRUSHING turtle habitats and draining ponds, and re-routing rivers. Expanding subdivisions into the last available greenspaces and dropping 100-home developments on the sites of former ponds. Turtles are *literally* spilling into the streets on Murdock, and Shallowford Rd. 

AJC published an article which encourages replacing and leaving these turtles in harm’s way. “Saved from a tire, killed by a bulldozer” (or lawnmower).

AJC published that moving turtles to actual safety may kill them by causing repeated or endless homing attempts rather than just adapting. This is only true (at all) for one rare tortoise species. 


A well intentioned journalist writing a special interest piece on turtles can make the niche environment and fragile requirements of the Gopher Tortoise sound like “ALL turtles go out of their minds when transplanted”. 

They’re journalists not herpetologists. And they mean well. 

If you’re genuinely concerned about this and want to do the right thing, ask a legit zoo herpetologist where to put a fleeing box turtle leaving the new site of ‘Lake Fjord Terrace new 112 home development’….like, put it back in the epicenter of the construction? or….since it’s just gonna die if moved to a wet-grass river’s edge in Murray County, should you even bother? 

Box turtles are killed by cars, kids, dogs, lawnmowers, loss of forage, and did I mention lawnmowers? 

Drop those in remote areas: Filtered sunlight with mulchy wet soil within 100-200 yards of water (river, creek, branch or pond) and grass. Mushrooms, berries, slugs and worms are necessary. 

Female water turtles leaving water to lay eggs are in fact ‘mission focused’ …..for that week!!! If it’s *not* April-May, please bucket ‘em up and toss ‘em into Allatoona, Lanier, Etowah or Chattahoochee river, etc. 

But for semi-terrestrials like Box turtles, their ‘territory’ is just a preference and a habit; not a life-threatening necessity. If they go fifty feet after they’re moved it wouldn’t be to go ‘home’ ……but to find soft wet soil, shade, water, mushrooms, worms and berries. PERIOD. 


For Gopherus polyphemus …..okay…. that *ONE* South Georgia sand-hill community burrowing species, true as told. They are likely to die if uprooted and mishandled.

[I’m that vet that patches up broken turtles, keeps and breeds threatened tortoise species, Atlas’ owner, published on breeding Geochelone (chelonoides) denticulata, and saved turtles since I was 7.] 

Author: Dr. Erik Johnson
Dr. Erik Johnson is the author of several texts on companion animal and fish health. Johnson Veterinary Services has been operating in Marietta, GA since 1996. Dr Johnson graduated from the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine in 1991. Dr Johnson has lived in Marietta Georgia since 1976.