Turtles have been roaming the Earth for millions of years—but now dozens of these “slow and steady” species are racing toward extinction.

Some turtles are killed for their shells and meat; others are victims of wildlife trafficking, the pet trade, accidental capture in fishing nets and habitat destruction.

Green sea turtles swimming off Maui, Hawaii.
David Fleetham
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Alamy Stock Photo
Keep turtles in the wild—and in their familiar territory.

You might be tempted to help a turtle cross the road, far from the dangers of traffic, but turtles don’t adapt well to new places and they’ll likely be killed trying to return to their home. If you can safely assist, just gently carry them across the road in the same direction they were headed. 

HSUS rescue member with a rescued tortoise on a sunny day
Kali Pereira of our Animal Rescue Team with a tortoise rescued from Hurricane Michael in Gulf County, Fla. in October 2018.
Dan Anderson
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AP Images for the HSUS
Did you know?

What’s the difference between a turtle, a tortoise and a terrapin? The distinctions are a bit blurry and terminology can depend on where you live. They all belong to the scientific order of turtles—in the U.S., a tortoise typically refers to a turtle who lives on land in hot, dry regions while terrapins are turtles who live primarily in fresh or brackish water.

Bird in birdbath, enjoying a humane backyard

No matter how big or small your outdoor space, you can create a haven for local wildlife. By providing basic needs like water, food and shelter, you can make a difference in your own backyard.

ebettini / iStock.com