Kids & Pets
August 6, 2020
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Spring is turtle season?

By: Mickey Zeldes
May 10, 2019

Why did the turtle cross the road?  We will never know because a Good Samaritan picked him up and brought him into the shelter!  Not once, not twice, but three times in just this past week!  Different turtles, of course.  So I guess along with kittens and baby birds, spring is also turtle season!  We have Western Pond Turtles, and Red-eared sliders, all over Sonoma County and they live along the waterways – so our local creeks are home to many of them.  

In the spring, both the adults and the new young emerge from hibernation (actually I learned something new researching for this article – the word for reptiles is brumate, only mammals technically hibernate!  Who knew!) to seek out warmth, water and food.  That is most likely why they were crossing the road!  If it’s one of these turtles you’ve stopped your car for, (take a moment to Google images so you can recognize them), then you can just politely help them across the road.  No need to “rescue” them and bring them into the shelter!

Red-eared sliders are technically non-native, but like opossum, they are everywhere and seem to thrive here. They are pretty recognizable, because as their name suggests, they have bright red stripes on the sides of their faces from their eyes to their ears. Red-eared sliders are one of the most popular water turtles for people to own and sold in many pet stores.  Since they are kept outside in backyard ponds, it is easy for them to just walk away and become lost.

If you find a turtle that is hurt, in distress, or not in a safe area, by all means stop and render aid.  If found in Rohnert Park or the City of Cotati, you may bring the turtle here.  We are fortunate to have a very responsive reptile rescue organization in Sonoma County and they will take these wayward turtles from us to house and adopt out.  Springtime sure keeps this group busy with calls about all sorts of reptiles and snakes being sighted.  Al Wolf, director, says that he routinely gets in about 200 Red-eared sliders each year and about 40 Western pond turtles!  

Sonoma County Reptile Rescue will come out and remove rattlesnakes from your property so that they don’t have to be killed.  They also offer educational programs to both adult and youth groups so people can learn about reptiles and grow to respect them.  They assist animal control and shelters when snakes and other reptiles come in that we can’t house adequately and their assistance is greatly appreciated. 

Turtles and reptiles are an important part of our eco-system, helping to keep bugs (like mosquitos) and rat populations down.  We really don’t need to “get rid” of them – just learn how to co-exist peacefully.  And if a rattlesnake gets into your house you don’t have to kill it, just call (707) 829-8152 or email for assistance.  Remember, the snake is as scared of you as you are of him!

So as you’re driving around Rohnert Park this spring, keep your eyes out for slow moving turtles trying to get across the street – if you watch, you might find out why!

Upcoming Events

Kidz ‘n Critters Summer Camp still has a few openings for students going into grades 2-7.  Go to or stop by the shelter for a flyer and application.  

“Get Them Back Home” Campaign – Every lost pet should have a way to get back home.  FREE pet ID tag and a back-up microchip are available to all residents of Rohnert Park and Cotati.  No appointment necessary, just come by the shelter during our regular open hours: Wed. 1-6:30; Thurs.-Fri.-Sat. 1-5:30; Sun. 1-4:30.

Fix-it Clinics – Free spay and neuters for cats; and $60 dog surgeries (up to 80 lbs.) for low-income Rohnert Park and Cotati residents.  Call 588-3531 for an appointment.

Mickey Zeldes is the supervisor at the Rohnert Park Animal Shelter. She can be contacted at