I do not make a habit of picking up the turtles that I see on my walks. I believe they would run away like the deer if they could when they see humans. They don’t like these interactions. I want them to know that I am a friend and they can trust me. So I refrain from handling them. You would not put your hands on a friend in order to examine them, would you? Especially when you just met! I will greet a turtle - or any other animal I come across for that matter - and then take my photos and say goodbye. That’s just being polite. I don’t otherwise take photos of potential friends that I’ve just met, but I am a turtle enthusiast and advocate in addition to being a turtle friend.
Since the pandemic, I’ve been keeping a record of all the box turtles that I see in my neighborhood and there have been many. When I see one, I compare it with the photos I’ve already taken, and often I realize that we’ve met before. You see, each eastern box turtle has unique markings on its shell, kind of like a fingerprint. When I realized this, I began to photograph them straight from the top of the shell. This makes accurate identification easier. So far I have seen four turtles this year, three repeats and one new one!
Please remember, if you are going to be more like a scientist and handle the turtles, be sure to wash your hands, they really do carry salmonella. And always put them back exactly where you found them.