Minneapolis Turtles Update: It's Homecoming Season! Share turtle sightings and learn how to help without harm.

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Environmental Stewardship


Make way for hatchlings!


Did you know baby turtles continue to hatch, usually through October?

Minneapolis turtles are moving to winter habitats this fall, until the weather cools

Read on for more about baby turtles and the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board's (MPRB) efforts to protect all turtles. 

baby snapping turtles at Longfellow Gardens

Some hatchlings are moving to water

You may see these baby turtles during their journey.


Even if they seem far from water, they know where they're going - and getting there on their own is critical.


Turtles imprint on the route and the process of moving to water: a phenomenon called natal homing or philopatry.


Don't interfere with this process, unless it's to help a turtle cross a road or path. (For that, see below.)


(MPRB Image)

Western painted turtle hatchling held in gloved hands

Other hatchlings will remain in their nests til spring

A turtle that hatches late in the season may not emerge from its nest until the following spring.


Hatchlings may remain in the nest if it is too cold for them to move or swim well, since their body temperatures are regulated by environmental temperatures.


It's possible to accidentally dig up nested hatchlings during autumn gardening or landscaping. If this happens, simply return the turtles where you found them: same place, at the same depth.


Ways you can help turtles in Minneapolis


Report turtle sightings at  bit.ly/ReportATurtle

Keep an eye out on parkways and paths near lakes and ponds – especially if you're driving or biking.

  • See an injured turtle? Report details at bit.ly/ReportATurtle and take the turtle directly to the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Minnesota.
  • Avoid handling healthy turtles, unless they need help crossing a road. Adult turtles are moving to their winter ponds and know where they want to go.
  • If you do move a turtle across a road:
    • Put it down facing same direction. 
    • Minimize handling to prevent damage to a turtle's yolk sac or a still-soft shell.
    • See cartoon below for details!

Keep pets away from turtles

Don't allow dogs to sniff, investigate or harass turtles or any other wildlife. Even a friendly dog's behavior is stressful to turtles. All dogs in Minneapolis parks, including beaches, must be leashed and kept under control (Ordinance PB2-18).


Admire turtles – don't "adopt" them

Turtles are wild animals (even in Minneapolis!) and are protected by state law. Taking home a hatchling or adult turtle is not adopting a pet. Turtles that are removed from their habitat suffer irreparable nutritional deficiencies.


Help spread the word!

  • Talk with your friends, family and neighbors about turtles in Minneapolis and share this update with them. 
  • Print and share an informational handout that includes the cartoon below. 

Learn More

TURTLE crossing sign

Bit.ly/ReportATurtle has received about 300 submissions so far in 2023, with 478 received throughout 2022. Altogether, MPRB has nearly 1000 reports of turtle sightings since the study began in 2021.  

Information collected through bit.ly/ReportATurtle helps MPRB learn where and when turtles are found in Minneapolis, and guides efforts to protect them at critical locations.


Find out more about turtles in Minneapolis on the MPRB website, including 2021 report findings and recommendations

Share your turtle sightings at 

Cartoon: Turtle crossing the road, courtesy of the Alongside Wildlife Foundation; art by BirdandMoon.com

Cartoon courtesy of the Alongside Wildlife Foundation; art by BirdandMoon.com