I laugh when I think of my unexpected scramble with this turtle in the outfield at Meadowbrook Park. The game began when I spotted the turtle’s head and wrinkled neck at the corner of a chain-link fence. The prehistoric-like creature looked so vulnerable and out of its element. I wanted to help it. Its head disappeared into its shell when I moved close. I consulted Google and made a plan to carry it out of the field by holding it like a sandwich in both hands with thumb on shell and fingers supporting under-body. My knuckles rolled over the gravel, grasped and lifted the turtle. POW! A fist with teeth shot out from the suspended shell towards me like a surprise back-handed punch. I screamed, jumped, and dropped the turtle.
Adults and children approached the field, curious about the commotion. Two men advised me to be careful since it was a snapping turtle. The tall man handed me a soda can through the fence and a few minutes later, the other man lifted his son’s scooter over the fence to me. They both advised me to push the turtle about 3 feet to an opening under the fence. I thought, “What? Push it with these!” I tried. The turtle turned and snapped at me and dug its claws into the sand. The people watched my tap-jump, poke-hop, push-shuffle drills. Finally, the tall man joined me on the field. He gripped the scooter handle like a croquet player and calmly batted the turtle. It spun through the hoop and in a few seconds it was free in the grassy area. The man gave me a high five and the onlookers dispersed. The game was over and both sides won.
Sometimes curiosity and wonder can cause us to make funny connections with strangers.
Later I learned that snapping turtles should not be picked up. Their bites can cause injury! They can be particularly aggressive during Spring mating and nesting season. Clink on resources about turtles and turtle rescue.