Adopt-a-Turtle: Box Turtle Sanctuary
Though are work is primarily with amphibians, we do work with several area nonprofits on some of thew issues that reptiles struggle with in an urban environment. One of the most charismatic species being the Eastern Box Turtle. The fact that Box Turtles are adorable is part of their curse in that people often take them from the wild (which, in Georgia, is illegal without a permit!) and keep them for a while, and then release them. Sounds harmless enough, right? Well, what most people are unaware of is that Box Turtles are extremely long-lived (as long as 125 years!). They also have very small home ranges (as small as one acre). These turtles live their long lives in a very small area, and are often significantly disoriented when relocated. Recent research indicates that some adult reptiles are unable to re-orient themselves when relocated, and 74% perish due to the inability to adapt to a new environment and find food and shelter.
If you are like us, and get very concerned when you see an Eastern Box Turtle attempting to cross the road, keep in mind that that road is cutting through its small home range. If you are compelled to move it, then simply do your best to assess the direction it is heading in, and move it to that side of the road. The turtle will have gotten lucky that time.
In partnership with the Blue Heron Nature Preserve, Chattahoochee Nature Center and A.W.A.R.E we have developed an Eastern Box Turtle Sanctuary for non-releasable turtles that have been rehabilitated by the passionate experts at our partner institutions. Our sanctuary, located right in front of the main building at BHNP houses these lovely, rehabilitated but non-releasable turtles year-round. These turtles will be available for symbolic adoption to help cover the expense of maintaining the turtles and sanctuary. Those who support this program through symbolic adoption will have the right to name their turtle for the year.