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I am not currently a rehabber. If you have found an injured turtle, check the list here to see if there is a rehabilitator near you.

Turtle Rehabilitators

Some may find certain pictures on this page gruesome. I have not used them for shock value, but as an accurate depiction of what is seen around the world where the lives of turtles are bisected by roads.

 

 

 Roadkill Part 1

When I moved to Florida in late 1993, the first thing I noticed on the way home from the airport was the number of dead turtles on the road. After months of coming across long dead and practically dead turtles, I came across a Florida Redbelly that was badly injured, but alive. In the preceding months I had  brought injured turtles to local veterinarians, but found none in my area that wanted to deal with them. One local wildlife rehabilitator took some, but she was swamped with road injured animals of all types.  So I decided to attempt my first shell repair. In the time leading up to this I had read some articles and gathered supplies in case such a situation arose.

When I found her, she was surrounded by a lot of drying blood and covered in fire ants.

In retrospect, she really didn't have a chance. She had lost a lot of blood, her lungs had been damaged and were probably exposed for some time, and I didn't really know what I was doing. Despite her injuries, she was alert and reacted to me touching her limbs and head, though she didn't move them much.

I cleaned the area around the wound. Then I began to pull the shell together. I lifted one piece at a time back into position, cleaned it with acetone (careful not to get it in the wound) so that the epoxy would bond better to the shell. Then I covered the piece and surrounding shell with a rounded fiberglass cloth patch and impregnated it with epoxy. Working my way to the front of the shell piece by piece with overlapping patches. When complete, the turtle gave me hope that I had pulled off a minor miracle. She began walking  and fully extended her head.

 Then, after a couple of days where she appeared to be improving...she died.

Most of the Box Turtles and Gopher Tortoises I find on the road are males. Possibly because they tend to have large territories that overlap the territories of many females. Water turtles on the road tend to be females. They are usually gravid and looking for a nesting site. This female was no exception. I removed her eggs and placed them in an incubator.

In the fullness of time, I opened the incubator and found this.

Hatchlings were released into a quiet area of the lake that the female had come out of.

After this experience, I began harvesting eggs from fresh dead turtles on the roads. Temperature seems to be the main factor affecting egg viability. Heat from the sun and heat from decomposition destroys eggs quickly. I have hatched eggs taken from a turtle that was verified dead for over one day, but it was kept in an air conditioned room until I picked it up. Eggs taken from carcasses that spent a few hours on the road in the Florida sun were all bad. After some trial and error I no longer remove eggs from any carcass that smells rotten. You can tell the difference between the smell of a turtle (and its insides) and rotting meat.

Over the years I have averaged around 75 releases a year.

I have had some success with rehabbing less injured turtles over the years. Like this Peninsular Cooter.

Currently, I take the seriously injured turtles to a rehabber 45 minutes away. They notify me if turtles that I, or others, bring them die and contain eggs. I am in the process of putting together kits for local vets with contact information for me and the rehabber and containers for eggs that often are dropped by injured turtles.

If you are interested in removing eggs from Road-killed turtles, the following page might be of help. Roadkill 2