JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — The Missouri Department of Conservation is warning motorists to beware of turtles crossing roadways across Missouri as temperatures warm up. 

A release from MDC stated that turtles are commonly hit by vehicles on Missouri’s roads as temperatures rise but that an increased risk is present over the next few weeks.

Male turtles often cross roads to get to females during the mating season season, which is currently underway. Females will unwittingly risk their lives to cross roadways in order to locate nesting sites for their young families.

One reason they may be attracted to roads is that they are dark and absorb heat from the sun, and turtles are able to warm their bodies up from the heat often trapped in the asphalt.

Missourians will most likely come across common snapping turtles, ornate box turtles and three-toed boxed turtles.

Drivers who come across any of the shelled, notoriously slow reptiles should ensure they are able to safely maneuver around it or even pull over to the side of the vehicle and help the turtle across the road by moving it.

Motorists should pay attention to which direction the turtle is facing because if they move the turtle to the ‘wrong’ side of the road, it will likely attempt to make the risky crossing again.

As always, human safety is paramount and the above steps should only be taken if traffic allows.