FRAMINGHAM, MA - Town of Framingham Conservation Commissioner Nicola Cataldo sent out an email reminding residents that several species of turtles are currently nesting around town.
The turtles which sometimes nest hundreds of yards from the many ponds and slower moving parts of the Sudbury River where they live will frequently attempt to cross roadways.
Residents are advised to be on the lookout for the turtles and avoid running them over.
The most populace species is town is the Eastern Painted Turtle which has a distinctive yellow underside with yellow and orange markings on their skin and around the edge of their near-black shells. If you see painted turtles on the road, it's safe to pick them up and help them cross the street -- but you should avoid handling Snapping Turtles, (which are prone to bite if handled).
Snapping Turtles can be identified by their brownish green shell, hooked beak, powerful "bear like claws" and a tail which has small armor plates resembling its dinosaur ancestors.
Snapping turtles can extend their necks to reach back two-thirds of the way across their shell, and will attempt to bite as a defensive maneuver.
Attempting to scoot the turtle across pavement with your foot or a stick can injure the turtle's feet and underside, so residents are advised to simply let snapping turtles cross on their own.
In addition to turtles, Commissioner Cataldo also reminded residents that garter snakes and water snakes may also be crossing roadways -- that the snakes are harmless and beneficial to the environment, and to try to avoid running them over too.
While Garter Snakes can be found in grassy and wooded areas, Water Snakes are usually found closer to bodies of water. Although they are both non-venomous and considered harmless, residents should be aware that Water Snakes will strike (attempt to bite you) if they are cornered. If you spot any species of snake, it's best to just give them space and they will likely slither away -- they are as afraid of you as you are of them!
Turtles, snakes, frogs and other herpetiles are beneficial to man, and to the planet's ecology in general.
Helping to create a balance in food chain, herps prey on insects, rodents and other pests.
Because amphibious animals like turtles, frogs and water snakes are extremely sensitive to even small amounts of pollution or other changes in the environment they act as early warning signs to man if the ecosystem is upset.
A healthy population of these animals is a good sign that environment is balanced and thriving.