Painted Turtle Update

Guest blog post from our friends at Hobbitstee Wildlife Refuge.

On Saturday July 18th we received a Midland Painter Turtle who had been hit by a car from Kitchener Waterloo Humane Society with a serious cracked carapace (top shell of the turtle). The most labour intensive part of the repair is often the flushing of the wound. We don’t want to close it with dirt and debris still inside. There is a variety of techniques one can use to immobilize fractured carapaces and plastrons (bottom of shell) and it depends on the type of fracture which is used. Plastron and carapace fractures are essentially broken bones, but on the outside and when immobilized and aligned the fractures will heal. Most of the flushing and fracture immobilization is done with the turtle anesthetized and requires knowledge and skills. During the healing process the turtle also received anti-inflammatory/pain medication and antibiotics. We sometimes receive turtles from people who have watched one too many YouTube videos and have tried to fix turtles themselves using a variety of compounds such as bondo or fibreglass. Please don’t do this! These types of DIY treatments almost always end with a turtle dying a horrible death. 

At Hobbitstee we rehabilitate and release several hundred turtles a year. Most of those turtles have been hit by car and the remainder had swallowed a fish hook. Our turtle busy time is during the month of June when many females search for a place to lay their eggs, with a little peak in the early fall when turtles head for their wintering grounds. Turtles look for the ideal egg laying location and consider the soil type, moisture, sunlight and many other factors. Unfortunately we as humans often put roads in their way and these ancient creatures have trouble adapting to this, causing many to lose their life. The loss of these breeding age females has a huge impact in the various species of turtles we have in Ontario. All 8 species of turtles are listed on the Endangered Species List, from at risk all the way to endangered depending on the species. For some species it takes 15 years before the females are of breeding age, so if at all possible it is very important to avoid running over turtles if you can do so safely and better yet, help these girls cross the road safely in the direction they are heading without putting your own life at risk or causing a traffic hazard of course. It is important to not relocate a turtle to what you assume is a better location. When turtles are traveling they have an end goal in mind and relocating the turtle is confusing for the turtle and they are likely to get lost. When we can’t save a turtle or when euthanasia is required we often are able to recover eggs from these female turtles. With the help of many SPCAs, Humane Societies, Veterinarians, Animal Control Agencies and members of the public we manage to recover on average about 2,000 eggs a year from recently deceased or euthanized wild turtles. We hatch these eggs and return the hatchlings to the closest suitable habitat near where the female was found. 

In doing this we honour the sacrifice of a parent and the genetic loss of the breeding age female by a tiny fraction. 

 

The Midland Painted Turtle send to us by the KW Humane Society should make a full recovery and will be returned to her natural habitat late summer/early fall.