Turtle Appearance Although they vary in size and color, all turtles are reptiles with hard shells used for protection. They may prefer fresh water or saltwater and be passive or aggressive. One of the most common land-dwelling varieties is the Eastern box turtle. Found in almost every part of the country, these nuisance pests have dark shells with yellow or orange patterns and striped or spotted skin. They prefer forests and feed on fruit, grasses, and insects. On the other hand, snapping turtles, also found nationwide, can be quite dangerous. These large, freshwater pests are identified by their brown or green ridged shells and muscular build. Snapping turtles hunt small fish, birds, frogs, and snakes. Dangers Posed by Turtles While many species of turtles look alike, identifying snapping turtles is important because they are known to be aggressive. With their powerful, beak-like jaws, the pests are able to bite off fingers and toes. Turtle species that lack forceful bites have no defense besides retracting into their shells. This makes docile varieties popular pets, though they are not without some health risks. Wild and domestic turtles can pass along Salmonella bacteria, which causes illness. Children and the elderly are the most likely to get sick from contact with a turtle, suffering symptoms like diarrhea, cramping, and nausea. Exclusion & Prevention Turtles are not quick, nor are they proficient climbers or diggers. Simply erecting a sturdy fence should keep them out of yards, though avoiding the addition of water features and ponds when landscaping can prevent attracting them in the first place. Freshly turned soil may also draw turtles into yards, as they use gardens and flowerbeds for laying eggs. Removal should not be undertaken lightly. Some species are protected by law, while snapping turtles can prove dangerous if threatened. The safest approach to identifying and managing turtles in the yard is to call the professionals at Critter Control.