Understanding our Beloved Wilden Resident & Its Behaviour
The Western Painted Turtle (Chrysemys picta bellii) is a fascinating reptile that calls Wilden its home. With their vibrant colours and distinct markings, these turtles are a delight to observe. However, their natural behaviour of commuting between ponds often puts them at risk of road accidents. In this blog post, we will shed some light on the most active times of year and day for the turtles and provide guidance on how to protect these precious creatures when they are encountered on the road.
A Kelowna Resident
The Western Painted Turtle is a subspecies of the common painted turtle and is native to North America. These turtles are well-suited to the Kelowna region, with its abundance of freshwater ponds and wetlands. Their carapace (top shell) is smooth and dark and the belly features intricate red/orange and yellow patterns, making them easily recognizable.
Active Times of Year
Western Painted Turtles are ectothermic, meaning their body temperature depends on the surrounding environment. Consequently, they are most active during the warmer months of spring and summer. In Kelowna, these turtles emerge from hibernation around April and remain active until September. The period between May and July is particularly important for their nesting and mating activities.
Active Times of Day
Western Painted Turtles are diurnal creatures, meaning they are active during the day. They bask in the sun to regulate their body temperature, often seen perched on logs or rocks near the water’s edge. The mid-morning and early afternoon are the peak times when they are most likely to be spotted soaking up the sun.
Crossing the Road – A Risky Journey
Despite the presence of a turtle tunnel, located just north of the Union Rd. roundabout, in Wilden’s most active turtle crossing area on Union Road, some Western Painted Turtles still venture across the road, putting themselves in danger of being run over. To ensure their safety, it is essential for residents and visitors to be aware of their presence and take appropriate actions.
What to Do When You Encounter a Turtle on the Road
If you encounter a Western Painted Turtle on the road, follow these steps to help ensure its safety:
- Slow down and be cautious of other vehicles.
- If it is safe to do so, stop and ensure there is no immediate danger for yourself or others.
- Gently and carefully pick up the turtle, holding it by the sides of the shell, and move it in the direction it was heading or place it by one of the tunnel entrances. Best is to hold the turtle to the side of your body as turtles tend to pee when being picked up.
- If the turtle is near the tunnel please place it at the entrance on the side that you are on. The animal can now safely cross and continue their journey.
- If you’re not close to the underpass, place the turtle on the side of the road it was most likely heading to, ensuring it is well clear of the road.
Handling an Injured Turtle
If you come across an injured turtle, it is crucial to handle it with care and seek professional help. Contact the Interior Wildlife Rehabilitation Society to report the injured turtle and get guidance on how to provide immediate aid. For more information about how to report an injured animal, please click here.
The Western Painted Turtle is a cherished resident in Wilden. By understanding their behavior, their active times, and taking appropriate measures when encountering them on the road, we can collectively ensure the survival of these remarkable creatures. Let’s appreciate their beauty and play our part in protecting them for future generations to enjoy.
Remember, every small action makes a big difference in preserving the natural heritage of our beloved Wilden community. Thank you for looking out for your Wilden neighbours, including the wild ones!