Some years ago, a Connecticut dry cleaners realized their store was smack dab in the middle of a turtle migration route, and now every year from May through September, job responsibilities shift from cleaning and pressing clothes to cleaning and pressing clothes and picking up turtles.
Pameacha Pond, a 19-acre body of water in Middletown, CT, is the site of a spring migration of Eastern painted turtles, who have to cross a busy two-lane road to get there and lay their eggs.
Later in summer, the flow of turtles changes, and rather than adult turtles entering Best Cleaner’s front door, tiny hatchlings—no bigger than a quarter—come through the back.
“Every summer, we’re always looking at our feet because we don’t want to step on them,” assistant manager Jennifer Malon told the Washington Post.
Malon is just one pair of hands at Best Cleaners that routinely crosses the busy road, turtle(s) in hand, because ever since local news covered the story, and it was picked up by the Post, locals have been coming to pitch in.
“We have all helped bring at least one turtle across,” Malon told Middletown Press. “We’re used to it now; it’s part of the job almost. We put them a good distance toward the water and they usually climb down the bank.”
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Though neither rare nor endangered (the Eastern painted turtle is one of the most common turtles in America) they are important indicator species and can be used as a proxy of the integrity of the ecosystem as a whole.
Charmingly, the residents of Middletown believe it’s part of what makes the town special—seeing turtles slipping about on the floors of the store when they come to pick up the dry cleaning.
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