Turtle’s shell fractured after car strike

By Joanna Fitzgerald | Director of the von Arx Wildlife Hospital

A Florida snapping turtle was among the 72 animals admitted to the von Arx Wildlife Hospital at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida last week. Other admissions include a burrowing owl, a worm-eating warbler, an eastern screech owl, a Florida box turtle and twelve grey squirrels.

The Florida snapping turtle was spotted crossing Goodlette Frank Road heading toward a medical center parking lot. Wildlife Hospital staff received two calls simultaneously on separate phone lines about the injured turtle.

The first woman who called was concerned for the turtle’s well-being but her passenger absolutely refused to allow her to stop and offer assistance.

The second woman caller was hesitant but much more open to seeing what she could do to help. She parked near the turtle to try and keep it safe from other passing vehicles while she checked at the medical office for a box to contain the turtle. Hospital staff offered advice on ways to keep safe while she secured the turtle in the box.

When the woman arrived with the snapping turtle, we could tell the whole process had been a new experience for her and she was a bit unnerved. Staff congratulated for her efforts as she did everything correctly and saved a life.

The snapper’s carapace was fractured along one side and a section of fat was protruding from the fracture site. Our staff vet sedated the turtle and performed surgery to remove the section of fat. Wires were used to realign and stabilize the fracture.

Currently the snapping turtle is receiving antibiotics and pain medication while recovering in the reptile room at the von Arx Wildlife Hospital.

Attempting to cross roads is very hazardous for turtles. Whether they are crossing to find food, appropriate nesting locations or to move from one water source to another, it puts them in harm’s way. If you encounter a turtle attempting to cross the road please safely pull over and offer assistance if possible.

If the turtle is uninjured, place it out of danger in the direction it was headed. Never put a turtle directly in a lake or pond, instead place it near the edge of the water. Turtles are often misidentified and a land turtle or tortoise may drown if put in the water.

If the turtle is injured please bring it to the wildlife hospital for immediate medical assistance.

When picking up a turtle it is best to cover its head and body with a towel or t-shirt. The turtle will not like the feel of the towel touching its body so it will be more likely to tuck its head and legs into its shell.

Always call the staff at the wildlife hospital for guidance if you have any questions.

Recent Releases —27 Animals Returned Home

  • 1 Florida snapping turtle
  • 1 Florida softshell turtle
  • 2 Florida box turtles
  • 1 gopher tortoise
  • 1 loggerhead shrike
  • 5 eastern cottontails
  • 2 northern cardinals
  • 3 mourning doves
  • 1 burrowing owl
  • 1 sandwich tern
  • 2 raccoons
  • 4 grey squirrels
  • 1 red-bellied woodpecker
  • 1 ruddy turnstone
  • 1 ovenbird

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.

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