LIMA — Leonard Truex, 83, was out purchasing some cole slaw for Mother’s Day on Sunday when he received a strange phone call from Rita Marcoux, who lives with Leonard and his wife, Sonya, on Sutherland Road.
“Rita said there was a large turtle in our front yard on the road, and she asked, ‘Are you on your way home?’” Truex said Monday. “I said I’d be home soon. By the time I got home, the turtle had wandered out into the street.
“Rita said a truck hit across the side of its shell, she told me over the phone. So when I got home from the store all kinds of people were stopping taking pictures.”
Truex and a neighbor decided they needed to maneuver the turtle off the road and into the yard so it wouldn’t get hit again.
Truex held the turtle’s tail, pulling it back into his yard safely. Then Marcoux found a box, placing it overtop the turtle. The turtle immediately tossed the box back, so Truex grabbed his wheelbarrow, placing it over top of the box.
Within three hours, the turtle moved the box in the wheelbarrow several feet across the front yard.
The turtle is extremely strong, Truex said. It has huge claws and looks somewhat prehistoric. He identified the turtle as a 40-pound snapping turtle.
After the turtle settled down, Truex called the Allen County Sheriff’s Office and the game warden. They weren’t quite sure what to do with it. On Monday afternoon, Truex, with help from his son, Myles, loaded the turtle into a wheelbarrow and released it in a creek down the road from his home. The turtle jumped right in, Truex said.
“He was happy to be back in the water. I just thought it would be a great to save this mother turtle on Mother’s Day,” Truex said with a smile.
The snapping turtle is Ohio’s largest turtle. The carapace (upper shell) typically ranges in size between 10 and 19 inches, and these turtles usually weigh between 10 and 35 pounds. They are very aggressive if approached when they are outside water, and they have very powerful jaws.
Unlike many turtles, about the only time they bask is at the very beginning of spring. They often bury themselves in the muck at the bottom of wetlands.