Drivers warned to slow down amid wet weather migration: ‘Smashed into pieces’

Turtles can be extremely hard to spot as their colouring can blend in with the road.

As Aussies along the east coast shelter from a continued heavy downpour, motorists have been urged to use extreme caution on roads. But it’s not just driver safety that’s at risk, the rain is predicted to spark a mass turtle migration.

Turtles use flood events to travel between water sources, and sadly this often means crossing busy roads where they are at risk of being struck by cars and trucks. One veteran WIRES rescuer told Yahoo News she expects to be called to assist several over the weekend.

“It happens pretty much any time there is heavy rain or flooding. I’m expecting to get quite a few calls,” Inga Thiere said.

Left - a turtle crossing the road. Right - a map of Australia's east coast and predicted rain.
Turtles can be hard to spot as they cross roads during rain events. Source: WIRES/

She shared a photo of a turtle crossing the road in Wollondilly two years ago to highlight how difficult they are to see, particularly if you’re travelling fast.

How do I help turtles crossing the road?

If it’s safe to do so, motorists are urged to pull over, put on gloves and move the turtle off the road. But if you have the time, Thiere also recommends calling a local wildlife service to have the animal assessed. And there are three very good reasons for doing so:

  • Turtles will often turn around and cross back across the road

  • Some wandering turtles are dumped or escaped pets that won’t survive in the wild

  • Invasive red-eared slider turtles pose a serious risk to native species.

“I’ve seen a turtle hit by a car that was smashed into almost five pieces. There were definitely two separate pieces of the turtle, but it was still alive,” she said. “Reptiles are really tough creatures. Even if there is blood and it is splattered everywhere, take it to the closest vet because that animal could still be alive.”

Once assessed, all healthy turtles should ideally be released within one kilometre of where they are found. In NSW, WIRES can be called on 1300 094 737, and those further south can contact Wildlife Victoria on (03) 8400 7300.

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