A student at Clemson University made a disturbing discovery when he placed a rubber turtle in the road and spent an hour watching what passing cars would do. Out of 257 cars that passed, seven of them tried to hit the turtle. Down the road at Western Carolina State University, a psychology professor asked a class of about 110 students whether they had intentionally ever run over a turtle. Thirty-five of them had.
It would be one thing if people were into running over rats. The species would certainly survive despite human cruelty like this. Also, rats are fast. Box turtles not so lucky. For one thing, though box turtles are very common in the South, the population is suffering. Out of 100 hatched eggs, only two or three of these will survive to reproduce themselves. Also, it takes a turtle about 10 minutes to cross a road, and 10 minutes is often enough time to ensure that one of the cars passing by will be driven by an asshole who thinks it is fun to hit turtles.
Fortunately, these adorable turtles do have some friends and these people are trying to figure out a way to let turtles live longer. (For some mysterious reason, step one is not “destroy all humans.”) One thing they are doing is trying to come up with safer ways for these turtles to cross the roads. The other, of course, is to explain to people that only huge douchebags hit turtles, and if you want to not be a douchebag, you should let these poor defenseless turtles live.
- Clemson student's turtle project takes dark twist , Rock Hill Herald
Get Grist in your inbox