Eastern box turtle

Do not try to keep wild animals as pets

By Joanna Fitzgerald | Director of the von Arx Wildlife Hospital

An eastern box turtle were among the 53 animals admitted to the von Arx Wildlife Hospital at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida this past week.

The eastern box turtle was found in a yard. Her “rescuers” attempted to keep her as a pet although others had advised them that the turtle needed medical attention.

The turtle’s beak was severely overgrown making it impossible for the her to eat.

After two days, the turtle’s “rescuers” realized she was unable to eat and brought her to the von Arx Wildlife Hospital for care.

One look at the box turtle showed her top beak was overgrown, which prevented her from eating. Her toenails were overgrown and her shell had deformities as well.

Deformities such as these are often seen in captive turtles that have received inappropriate nutrition and husbandry for extended periods of time.

Our assumption is someone had kept the turtle as a pet. The turtle either escaped or was abandoned only to be found by the current “rescuers,” who also had the misguided notion to keep her as a pet.

Along with the overgrown beak, the turtle was very sick and had respiratory issues. The box turtle was too weak and sick to handle the sedation required to trim her beak. She was given antibiotics and supportive care to build her strength but the malnutrition and illness proved too much and the turtle passed away.

Sadly, this wasn’t the only turtle recently admitted suffering severe health issues due to improper nutrition and husbandry.

Click here to 13 Tips To Keep Wildlife Safe

A Florida red-bellied turtle was admitted last week in the most awful condition any of us had ever witnessed. The thought of the suffering that turtle endured before being brought to our facility was beyond heartbreaking.

How You Can Help

Please, help us stop the unnecessary loss of life. Never consider keeping a wild animal as a pet. Wild animals have very specific nutrition and husbandry needs that are extremely difficult to replicate in a captive setting. Additionally, wild animals deserve to live in the wild and not be placed in captivity because people find it entertaining.

If you find an injured, sick or orphaned animal call the wildlife hospital for assistance. We will do everything needed to provide appropriate care. If you find a healthy wild animal, leave it be so it can continue its life in the wild.

Recent Releases — 25 Animals Returned Home

  • 7 eastern cottontails
  • 1 mourning dove
  • 1 pied-billed grebe
  • 1 anhinga
  • 2 double-crested cormorants
  • 1 Cooper’s hawk
  • 1 eastern mud turtle
  • 1 royal tern
  • 1 grey squirrel
  • 3 brown pelicans
  • 1 yellow-bellied turtle
  • 1 eastern screech owl
  • 1 Virginia opossum
  • 3 raccoons

Opportunities to Help

Please visit the Conservancy website at www.conservancy.org to view all of the amazing volunteer opportunities at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida. Volunteers are needed more than ever during our incredibly busy summer season. Your volunteer time, memberships and donations are vital in helping us continue our work to protect Southwest Florida’s water, land, wildlife and future.

Joanna Fitzgerald is director of the von Arx Wildlife Hospital at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida. Call 239–262–2273 or see conservancy.org.