Spring is in the air and that means critter all across Michigan are waking up from their deep, wintry sleep. As these animals have started to become more active, I've noticed more and more roadkill along our roads. The headless deer were one thing, but I'm hoping I don't see many turtles that have met an untimely end.

There are ten different species of turtles that are found in Michigan, each one being an essential part of our ecosystem. As these reptiles begin to emerge from hibernation, here's what you need to know.

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Turtles begin to come out of hibernation during March and April and whereas captive turtles wake up relatively quickly, wild turtles are known for taking their sweet old time! As these turtles become more active and start to make their presence known, they will start to look for mates and begin to court.

The Michigan DNR lists several examples of turtle courtship displays including:

  • Male painted turtles softly stroke the females with their long toenails
  • Male eastern box turtles give the females gentle chin nibbles
  • Male snapping turtles engage in aggressive territorial struggles

Local animal rescue Saving Scales Reptile Rescue of Michigan reminds residents that although you may think you are doing the right thing, "saving" a wild turtle is illegal adding,

These are WILD animals, not your pets, please don’t “save them” to raise in your bathtub for your kids. It’s illegal, and unfair to the animal....If you find one injured...check for wildlife rehabbers in your area. These are licensed specialists who are legally allowed and capable to help.

However, according to Michigan state regulations there are certain time periods and certain species of amphibians and reptiles that may be taken for either personal or commercial reasons, but make sure you do your research first.

If you do find an injured turtle along the road and you are able to recover it safely, here is a list of Licensed Rehabilitators in Michigan.

9 Animals That Are, Surprisingly, Legal to Own in Michigan