Thursday, February 28, 2013

Turtle Rescue

For some reason a lot of people think that taking a turtle out of the wild and putting it in a cage is "rescuing" it. I promise you, the  turtle crossing the road did not need to be rescued. He was just fine. His new "owners" then think that turtle care is easy. They throw it a cricket and think everything will be just fine. It does not work that way.

They need special lighting, special heating, special cages, and special food.  They were not meant to be in a little aquarium. They need space to roam and dig and hunt and swim.  Basically they need to be a turtle. So come winter, when they should be getting ready to hibernate, the poor turtles are starved down, have vitamin deficiencies, and many other medical problems. They are too weak to be released. That is when I get them. After the fun has worn off and the animal is about to die.

This year I have four box turtles. All of them were "RESCUED" from the wild. I still don't understand that.

One is very small, probably only three years old, and was kept in a shoe box on some one's desk. They gave him lettuce to eat and sometimes water to drink. (Box turtles don't like lettuce.) He  was so weak when I first got him that I was afraid he would die.  He wouldn't open his eyes. He wouldn't walk around his new box. He just sat there.

Eating a Strawberry and Meal Worm Salad.
I have had him for about four months. He is still very underweight and is not a great eater, but I am sure that I will be able to release him in a couple of months.

Number two and three are both pretty healthy. They were underweight and dehydrated by the time I got them. They are both looking great after a soak and a few good meals. They will have no problem returning to the wild.

Turtle Four is my special baby. I thought I was going to loose him several times. He came to me 4 months after he was taken from the wild. He was so sick. I spent three months working on his eye infections. Every time I thought he was better they came back. One eye was so infected that I could not get the puss cap out of his eye. Finally I was able to remove a dried down cap of puss the size of a pencil eraser. He now has his vision back and is a mean little thing. He tries to bite me every day and will chase me if given the chance.
I will miss him. He has been such a challenge and I love his spirit.
I know they are just four little turtles and saving them will not change the world, but for them, the world is a better place. Once spring is here and the nights are warm, my four little rescues will get returned to the wild. I will take them to a place that is far from people and has everything a little turtle could ever want. I will undo what other people did to them. They will be free once more. 


  1. Replies
    1. I am a zookeeper by trade and have worked with reptiles for years. Now that we live here, I can't work. So I went back to school. Tank is my Forever Rescue - a 75 pound tortoise. He was my first rescue and what made me decide that I want to do turtle rescue when I grow up.

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    1. Tank is great. Ready for spring but great. Thanks for asking!

  3. Way to go with your box turtles! We kept a few box turtles for a few years until we had to move to D.C. We only got the first one because she was found at a construction site my husband was working on in the middle of a subdivision nowhere near a natural habitat, and completely painted in nail polish. She was clearly someone's escaped "pet". We had several "gifts" of box turtles after that from people who were "rescuing" them from the road, and brought them to us after they knew we had box turtles. They are absolutely fascinating creatures, and we learned a lot about their care. Ours stayed in a large area with our compost pile though, and hibernated in the winter. I'll have to look back through your blog to read more about Tank!

    1. I wish I could have let these guys hibernate. I received them too late in the year and they were just to sick. I am hoping to release them in April.