6 min read

Turtle Trapped On Train Tracks Rescued In The Nick Of Time

Like a helpful posse of white-hat-clad cowboys from classic Western fiction, a group of quick-thinking wildlife rescuers recently saved the life of a different sort of damsel in distress - a snapping turtle in real danger of being run over by a train.

Jacob Vincent tells The Dodo that he and his brother Max were out for a walk near their home in Lincoln, R.I., when they saw something unusual on the little-used train tracks running near the trail they were on."I spotted a dark object lodged into the opening of the tracks," says Vincent. "I walked closer to find a dehydrated snapper."

(Jacob Vincent)

But instead of continuing on their way, leaving the trapped animal in her perilous position, Vincent and his brother leapt into action.

"I quickly ran down to the river to fill up my water bottle to pour onto the dry turtle to help her regain the hydration and energy she had clearly lost," he says. "She must have been sitting in the tracks for hours or even days."

(Jacob Vincent)

After cooling the turtle off, the brothers began trying to free her from the tight spot, but she was wedged so snugly that she'd barely budge. Wanting to be safe, Vincent decided to do a quick check of the train schedule - he discovered that a train would indeed be passing through in about an hour.

"That was a shock because that train rarely came around," says Vincent.

Knowing that they had to act fast to save the turtle's life, the brothers called for backup: animal control.

(Jacob Vincent)

"Before we knew it animal control arrived and they were a great help, and I could tell they shared the same compassion for animals that my brother and I share," says Vincent.

But even with the extra help, the turtle, who was by now panicked and writhing, was still squarely stuck.

(Jacob Vincent)

"I decided to push a nearby piece of wood under her belly to help slide her out, and it worked," Vincent says, adding that it was still a "twenty-minute battle with this stubborn snapper" before she was finally pried loose.

(Jacob Vincent)

With the stuck snapping turtle finally freed, the reptile rescuers were quick to return her back to where she belonged - a happy ending following her harrowing ordeal.

"My brother Max picked up the snapper with no hesitation and brought her down to the creek so she can run free and pursue her ongoing life as the prehistoric monument that she is," says Vincent.

(Jacob Vincent)

Common snapping turtles are found throughout the New World, inhabiting rivers and wetlands from southern Canada down to Central and South America. Although not considered a threatened species, these animals are often injured or killed due to human causes, like pollution or vehicle strikes while crossing roadways.

As their name suggests, snapping turtles are prone to bite well-meaning folks who may step in to help them, so the Turtle Rescue League recommends nudging them out of harm's way with a blunt object from behind, rather than picking them up, when it can be avoided.