Turtle Rescue of Long Island

May 18, 2016

2016 ~ Still Going Strong

Filed under: Uncategorized — Julie @ 8:31 am

Yes, it’s 2016 so it’s been quite some time since this blog has been updated, but since the world of Facebook it seems everything and everyone is on there! In case you are and have not found us there, our link there is¬†https://www.facebook.com/TurtleRescueLongIsland/ and we keep quite active there. We continue to stay busy with many rehabs and rescues and our place has grown. I’m sure since the last blog entry we have added several new enclosures and probably some new permanent residents. Our slider pond is pretty much maxed out with rescues so we won’t be adding any new turtles to that pond any time soon. The last few that were added were local Red eared sliders that were hit by cars and in NY state we are not allowed to release them back to the wild because they are not a native species, so what else can we do with them? DEC says find them a home or euthanize. Since finding them a home is so difficult and euthanizing a turtle that has a good chance of living a good life is not an option for us, they go in our pond. We’ve also had a few Western Painted turtles added to our Koi pond which were sent to us from other rehabbers and shelters. They do well out there and seem to be happy going from their tiny tanks to the 4,000 gallon pond. I guess it’s equivalent to us moving from a studio apartment to a four bedroom house. ūüôā As of August of 2015 we have however stopped taking in both Red eared sliders and other non-native species. We are no longer handling adoptions on a regular basis but rather concentrating on native species rehab and release. It just got to be too life consuming doing both.

With that being said, there are always the exceptions. For instance, we recently took in a terribly deformed Chinese box turtle that was surrendered to a pet store. There’s no way we could turn our backs on a turtle in need of lots care to get it back to some form of decent health. When a beak looks so bad you wonder how the poor thing is even eating, and the nails are either missing or curled in every other direction you have difficulty cutting them, you know you have to do something to help that turtle. So when a case like that comes up, we will take it and find it a home. We also took in a couple of Sulcata tortoises that were not being given proper care in a museum. They were crammed, being mixed with other species and had poor diets, no soaking areas and improper lighting. We were happy to take them to get them on to better health and into better homes. Same with a couple of Redfoot tortoises, same deal. You just can’t turn your back on such animals in need. As I type this I am waiting for a couple of Russian tortoises that are coming in. When I saw a photo of the disgusting filthy tank with alfalfa pellets littered on part of the bottom I knew I could not say no. These tortoises could not wait for someone else to take them and chance that they would fall into the hands of someone else that may give them care that was just as bad or if possible, worse. I have no idea what condition they will be in, but will do my best to do everything I can to get them back to good health. It’s so sad to see any animal suffer because of human ignorance or carelessness.

Unfortunately there is no shortage of rehabs. Over the winter we always have plenty of native turtles that just weren’t well enough in the fall to be released so we keep them over the winter to let their injuries heal, whether they be severed legs, ear abscesses, fractured shells, respiratory infections, whatever the damage, we take care of them and don’t release them until we are sure they are well enough to go back home. Any box turtle that is brought in to us we make sure we get a location where it was found so we can release it back to the area it came from. Because of their homing instinct they need to be released there. If released anywhere else they will try to get back to where they came from, often ending up being struck by cars trying to get there. Studies have been done that determined this homing instinct so we strictly adhere to these guidelines.

The turtles that I don’t understand getting struck by cars the most are our huge Common Snapping turtles. How in the world can a driver not see them? I don’t believe they don’t see them, I think they just hit them because to them it doesn’t matter, it’s just a turtle. If that were a rock or a small boulder in the road they would go around it so it would not damage their car, but because it’s ‘just a turtle’ that will crush under the pressure of the tire they have no problem running it over. Well, newsflash, that turtle is now dying a slow death, left to bleed, suffering and may have been just looking for a great spot to lay her eggs. Shame on those that do this, but thankful for those that find these poor turtles and bring them to us to try to save them. Amazingly, some do survive despite horrible injuries.

Well, I know there have been lots of things going on here since our last entry but way too much to sum up in one blog so join us on our Facebook page and maybe you can browse through the photos or posts to catch up. Hope to see you there! Have a great summer and be sure to celebrate World Turtle Day on May 23rd and do something awesome with your turtle or tortoise! You know the turtles and tortoises here will all get a special treat!

Be well!

All my best,

Julie @ TRLI

September 29, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Julie @ 8:51 am

It’s sure been a real long time since I’ve posted to the blog but we’ve had a real busy year. We’ve taken in more turtles and tortoises this year than any other and Sulcata tortoises surely have topped the list this year as the number one surrendered tortoise. They get bigger each year as well as increasing in numbers. I haven’t done a final tally yet but we have taken in over thirty and have about ten more coming in. I sure wish the pet stores would stop selling them. They don’t belong in our climate. They should need to be permitted to keep one since they grow to be so large. Maybe then people would think twice before acquiring one.

Rehabs have been as many as any other year. Hit by car turtles and ear abscess turtles are always coming in. Last year we had the Snapping turtle that had the chemical burns on it’s head, this year we had a large Snapping turtle that was hit by a car and had a big section of shell missing. After a few months of treatment and good care we were able to release her back to the wild.¬† Here’s how she looked before and after.

Before healing up

Before healing up

Snapping turtle hit by car
Snapping turtle hit by car
They are amazing how well they heal and how quickly the skin heals despite the loss of shell. I’m sure she was happy to get back to the pond.
We also had a Diamondback terrapin that came in with a really nasty hit by car injury where the entire back end of her carapace was broken off. Luckily she was found right away and brought into us and I was able to stabilize the shell while the cells below were still viable and she healed up really well and was also able to be released at the end of summer. She left behind a few eggs that if they hatch will also be released where she was.
Hit by Car Diamondback terrapin
Hit by Car Diamondback terrapin


Diamondback terrapin after healing up, prior to release
Diamondback terrapin after healing up, prior to release
It’s always a mixed emotion when releasing these turtles back to the wild. Glad that they have healed so well but also hoping they will stay off the roads and not encounter another vehicle to endure the same awful pain they once suffered.
The turtles with ear abscesses this year were unbelievable. The biggest I’ve seen ever. Normally we suspect when they reach a certain size the abscess will burst on it’s own without being lanced by a rehabber or a vet, however we have gotten in both Eastern box turtles and a Red ear slider with huge abscesses that did not burst and were nearly the size of the turtles heads. I can only imagine the pain these poor turtles were in and can’t help but wonder how many others are out there suffering from these painful infections. Here’s a sample of a couple that we got in that we were able to help and then release when they healed up.
One of the Eastern box turtles that came in.

One of the Eastern box turtles that came in.

RES with huge abscess
RES with huge abscess
Another little box turlte with abscess
Another little box turtle with abscess
These abscess were unbelibably huge and in the case of the RES she required some surgery to have the scar tissue removed because it was so bad. The others healed up well and were released back to the wild after treatment. Several came in, but luckily were all released again.
Then we have all the many Sulcata tortoises that have come in here in awful, horrendous conditions. I cannot emphasize enough that we need to get the information out to not only those that purchase these tortoises, but to the pet stores and to vets who offer info, that the care of these tortoises is not that of an arid environment. They are not meant to be kept on dry sand and fed nothing but romaine lettuce! PLEASE! Spread the info that they need humidity especially as hatchlings. In the wild they spend their time hiding in burrows that have high humidity from them excreting their urine/urates that cause the humidity to get as high as 80%. They don’t spend their days out in the hot sun baking under it, they come out and graze and walk when the day cools and bask when it’s not so hot out. They need exercise and should never be kept in a glass tank. It’s cruel to say the least! Please follow the care info we have set forth here: http://www.turtlerescues.org/sulcata_tortoise.htm¬† and by all means do not acquire a Sulcata tortoise unless you really have the means and space to care for one. http://www.turtlerescues.org/sulcata_challenge.htm¬† They have come in here looking so terrible it breaks your heart. We even had one die on us right after coming in this year from impaction. It’s intestine was filled with gravel. They eat what they are kept on and if not well hydrated they will become impacted and stop eating and passing feces and eventually die. Symptoms include loss of appetite, not walking and not pooping. If you get a tortoise, know it’s needs. This should never happen to a tortoise: no-sulcata-should-look-like-this¬†This is what a healthy Sulcata looks like. No lumps, no bumps. Stop the pyramiding! Take¬†care of your tortoise!¬†sulcata-sam-compressed
With the fall temps upon us it’s winding down except for the surrendering of Sulcata tortoises. We’re still getting calls for them. If you live in the south and have the room and a big heart and would like to adopt one or two please submit an application through our website. We’re always looking for good homes. But please know how to properly care for them. They don’t need much.¬†Graze, shelter and lots of exercise.

February 26, 2009

Winter 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Julie @ 5:26 pm

Sure seems like it’s been a long one. Never a favorite time of year around here with having to haul all of those that can’t winter outside to the inside and hunker down those that can winter outside into their outdoor accomodations. Always a nerve wracking time of year worrying if all outside will be okay during their winter hibernation.

The ponds have all been partially frozen for most of winter except for the hole that the submergible heaters keep in them.¬† Hard to see the turtles but have caught a glimse of a few over the course of the past few months when weather allowed a brief walk outside and there was no snow blocking the views. Of late there has been a Cooter up baskig on the warmer of the days and by warmer I mean above 40¬į and sunny. We’ve only had a couple of days in the near 60’s that we were able to bring out some of the Sulcata tortoises that we’ve been over wintering awaiting adoption. They were as thrilled as we were to get them outside for some sun and grazing. Too bad it was so short lived, but with spring only weeks away they’ll have a chance to be outside soon enough for longer days. And before long will be able to be shipped to their new homes in the southern parts of the country. Lucky them!

Of course we’ve taken in the usual Red ear sliders over the winter. One that Steve brought back from the expo at White Plains that he just couln’t stand to leave there. This thing looked like Dizzy Gillespie with an abscess so bad his face looked like two. With lancing and some antibiotics and much time to heal along with good care she is now all healed up. Another that came in with eye problems likely from one of those coiled lamps causing eye swelling. Fine now as well. And what would the winter be without a few hatchling RES, seems we never get through a winter without these. I did manage to find a great home for two of them though so only two left here now.

The Diamondback terrapins that were brought in for rehab are doing great and will be released come spring and weather permitting. Amazing how great they heal up when given a chance. And those little tiny Snapping turtles that were the size of quarters, well they could swallow a quarter now if you let them. Wow did they grow. I guess their first couple of months of poor care caught up with them once they got onto a good diet and had a good environment because they have really gotten very big and only on eating mostly snails, fish, superworms, shrimp, smelts, mussels and only some pellets and krill. I’m amazed at how fast they grew. I’m used to RES and tortoises that grow slowly.

¬†I was real happy to get word from someone that had dropped off a box turtle in the fall to us. She was not sure of the location that her sister had found the turtle, but this box turtle was in excellent shape and no reason for it to be kept except that we cannot release them unless we know where they came from. I set him up outside to hibernate figuring he would have to be rehomed come spring. Well she finally got out of her sister exactly where the turtle came from and I’m happy that it’s not far from our home and we can release him come spring! Woohoo! Love it when they can go home. One less turtle stuck in captivity.

We got a Diamondback terrapin in last month that was found in the vines around St. Patrick’s Cathedral in NYC. What the heck the turtle was doing there is beyond me. The person that brought the turtle in said she was told there were two spotted there but she could only find one. Likely someone had either bought them at the fish markets and released them or forgot them or something. Only in NY! One can only begin to guess. I’m still waiting to hear from DEC on what we can do with that one. Would love to be able to release him too.

This is the time of year when we start to get requests for placements of all sorts of tortoises and turtles. Mostly Red ear sliders and¬† Sulcata tortoises¬†then¬† Russian tortoises, Cooters and quite a few other species but not as many of those as the above. If you’re looking to adopt, please submit an adoption application along with photos of your enclosure. Please note that applications are not processed if photos are not submitted. Even if you send photos of your yard where you plan to build the enclosure it’s better than sending nothing, your application will at least get seen. Without any it gets filed awaiting photos. You can find the application here: http://www.turtlerescues.org/forms/adoption.htm

I hope everyone is having a safe winter and is looking forward to spring as much as we are!

August 14, 2008

A montage

Filed under: Uncategorized — Julie @ 3:59 pm

Long Island Newsday ran an article today about turtles.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Julie @ 3:58 pm

Long Island Newsday ran an article today about turtles. One of their staff photographers came by last week to take a bunch of photos of turtles so some of ours are in the article. Unfortunately the online version doesn’t show any pictures but I’ll try to scan it and post it later on for all to see.
The online version can be seen here: http://www.newsday.com/

June 28, 2008

Winter/Spring June 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — Julie @ 3:57 pm

As usual I have good intentions of keeping up with the blog but never seem to get around to it. So now I’ll try to joggle my memory to see if I can remember some of what has gone on here since the fall when I last posted.

As stated in the blog last entry, the RES are still a big problem with placing. I have had offers from several people out of state to release them in ponds where they are native so this is an option, but some people just don’t like that option. So for those I just keep a waiting list and place as I can in the few homes we do get for sliders.

Back in January I had a Redfoot tortoise come in here for placement. I swear this had to be the driest tortoise I have ever seen in my life. I named him Dusty because the dust was so thick on him it took literally weeks of soaking and brushing to get the dust off that poor guys shell. It was actually imbedded it was so bad. Kept in a tank with a heat mat AND a 160 watt uv/heat lamp. That poor tort was cooking in there. Amazing what they endure and still survive. He didn’t know what to do with a good meal when he got here but after weaning him off those awful colorful tortoise pellets I’m happy to say he left here eating nutritious greens, fruits, bugs, worms and shrimp like a Redfoot should and is now residing in a great home with a great tort keeper.

I had a few Sulcata residents for the winter. It’s always fun cleaning up poop like that of a horse (NOT). And having that hay makes the basement smell like a barn to go with that poop, so some may walk in and think we’re living in a barn, although it is in our basement. But fortunately the bigger of the Sulcata got a ride down to Florida In February so that only left a smaller twenty pounder and a another smaller one.

I got in a cute little Russian tortoise from one of the local nature centers in November, which was found at a beach here on Long Island. His tail was totally mutilated from the cloaca to the tip. The vet could not do anything for it because there was nothing to work with. So I took him home and did the best I could with keeping the wound clean and keeping him as comfy as I could. The little guy survived. My grandson named him Booboo tail, and he has been called Booboo since. He was supposed to go to an adopter upstate NY. They had built a great tort table for him, got all his supplies, bought the RT seed mix from www.carolinapetsupply.com and got it growing. All was set and the family was going to get the tortoise at the reptile expo in April. Then a tragedy. Fire ripped through their home while they weren’t home destroying everything, so Booboo could no longer be adopted by them. I felt awful for the family, but glad nobody got hurt. I adopted Booboo to another family but after about a month or so he was back with us because he wasn’t eating well and wasn’t acting like his normal self. So Booboo is still with me. Now living with my group of tortoises. He’s just the cutest little thing and really thrives here so I’m really hoping that the original family will one day be able to adopt him again.

Then in February came another Sulcata. One that could break your heart just looking at him he was in such awful shape. Remember Toby? This one is worse. There’s a short video clip of this one here: http://www.turtlerescues.org/gallery2/main.php?g2_itemId=4903
One of the worst cases of poor diet, poor habitat , lack of uvb, lack of humidity just lack of good care. The owner had brought him to a vet where they began treating him for MBD (metabolic bone disease) by giving injections of calcium and vitamin A. Luckily there were only four of these injections given before the owner got in touch with me and got the turtle out of there. The vet wanted to continue this for two weeks.Two weeks of vitamin A shots surely would have had this tortoises skin sloughing off his bones. His diet was spring mix and carrots according to the previous owner. If the vet had bothered to ask he would have known there was no vitamin A deficiency. After about a month of having the tortoise here and him not eating and having a terrible time trying to walk a lightbulb went off and I began to wonder if he could possibly have a blockage, rather than his not pooping being from not eating, and his difficulty of walking being from the MBD. If the vet had done an xray upon seeing this tortoise he would have seen the blockage that my vet saw when I brought him in. There is was, plain as day, intestinal blockage. All that time wasted with not trying to treat the blockage. I tried everything to get this tortoise to poop, and back to the vet two more times for xrays at three week intervals with not much progress. Four months later, finally, a little bit of poop has finally begun to leak out. Nothing like it should, but we are making progress and I am now a bit more hopeful that this amazing tortoise is on the mend and will survive. He is even now eating a bit of grass, on his own!

In February, Newsday featured a photo of one of the Leopard tortoises that had come through the rescue in their paper. I submitted the picture for the heck of it and was real surprised when they picked it. They ran a short bit about the rescue. It was nice.


November 14, 2007

Spring/Summer 2007

Filed under: Uncategorized — Julie @ 3:56 pm

Been a long time since I’ve given any updates, but I’ll try to remember all that’s gone on all summer and fall to keep you in the loop, so to speak.

It was a real busy season for all kinds of turtles and tortoises, and fortunately homes were found for all adoptable turtles/torts. I think my last count was something like 36 Sulcata that were placed. I’m sure there were more than those and once I get through all my paperwork I’ll have a more accurate number. We had several Sulcata that were dumped at the local ecology site. One in the greenhouse which was probably the worst place for dumping since they use chemicals on their plants; the other was dumped in the field on a cold Friday night after all the staff had left. Luckily security spotted him and called one of them back and they brought the tort here. If he had found his way into the woods surrounding the place he surely never would have survived the winter.
Please, if you have a tortoise or turtle that you can no longer keep, seek help, don’t dump it.

Unfortunately as of July 1st new regulation went into effect in Florida and no more Red ear slider turtles are permitted to be shipped into the state as pets. We had one person there with a huge pond that was accepting all that we couldn’t find homes for. Now that we can’t ship to her any longer, we are forced to turn away many, many RES. If you or someone you know has a large secure pond and can accept even one RES it would be a great thing to do. I hate turning them away as I’m sure many are being dumped, but I just don’t have the space here to house any more than I’ve already taken in. Of course I still take emergency cases like abandoned or hit by car, etc., but no longer can take them from everyone like we used to. I currently have two needing homes, so if interested let me know. A young female approx. 4″ and a teeny tiny hatchling.


November 8, 2007

Animal house: Rescuing turtles, finding them homes

Filed under: Uncategorized — Julie @ 3:52 pm

Denise Flaim

Animal House

November 8, 2007

Julie Maguire is looking for a few good ponds.

Feral kitties and Labrador retrievers and all those other usual suspects are not the only ones who need rescuing in these precincts. Abandoned and unwanted turtles and tortoises are more common than you might think, which is what prompted Maguire, of Lake Ronkonkoma, to found Turtle Rescue of Long Island (turtlerescues.org – don’t forget the “s”) in 2004.

Maguire can find good homes for just about any carapaced creature that inches its way across her threshold, with one glaring exception:

The red-eared slider.

Formally known as Trachemys scripta elegans, the semi-aquatic turtle with the red slashes on either side of its head originated in the Southern United States, but its popularity has made it a world traveler. Residing in ponds, lakes and creeks – anywhere the water is fresh and calm – sliders love to bask on rocks or logs, sometimes even atop each other. Their nickname comes from their quick skittering off their basking spot when approached.

Federal law prohibits the sale of tortoises and turtles of less than 4 inches in diameter. (This theoretically is the size at which the animals cannot be placed in a child’s mouth, reducing the risk of salmonella transmission, which is always a concern with reptiles.) Still, red-eared sliders are widely available as hatchlings, sold in tourist areas and ethnic neighborhoods such as the metro area’s many Chinatowns.

Impossibly cute, sliders grow to be up to a foot long and require lots of room – a 55-gallon tank at minimum. Because they sleep, eat and defecate in their tank water, conditions can get rather, er, ripe, unless owners are assiduous about filtration and cleaning.

Maguire figures she gets three to four calls a week from slider owners looking to relinquish their once-cute charges. The best she can do is put them on a waiting list.

“We are so overwhelmed, we can’t take red-eared sliders anymore,” says Maguire, who used to ship rescued sliders to Florida – until that state made them illegal earlier this year.

That leaves private local ponds that are securely fenced: Pushy predators, sliders can easily edge out the native terrapin population. The pond also has to be deep enough for the turtles to overwinter.

Adopters are scarce, to say the least. “If I get two people locally per year, I’m lucky,” Maguire says, sighing. “I get two or three out-of-state requests, but that’s not enough to meet the demand.”

While it is illegal to release a captive turtle in the wild, Maguire suspects desperate slider owners are doing just that.

On the subject of difficult-to-place turtles, the sulcata tortoise runs a somewhat close second to the red-eared slider in terms of the numbers that are coming into rescue and the difficulty in placing them.

Native to northern Africa, sulcatas are large grazing turtles that can easily reach 90 pounds and the proportions of a television set. Unable to survive our winters, they must be sheltered indoors roughly half of the year, and their take-no-prisoners approach to home decor has prompted some to eat through drywall.

“They can’t be kept in a tank – they need a room,” says Maguire, who sends her sulcata rescues to more Southern climes, where they can live outdoors year round.

Whether a sulcata or a slider, most owners had little idea that their saucer-size critter would grow into such a big problem.

“If you’re going to buy a tortoise or a turtle, it’s a lifetime commitment,” Maguire concludes. “They can live 50 to 100 years or more.”

Copyright © 2007, Newsday Inc.


June 24, 2007

May & June 2007

Filed under: Uncategorized — Julie @ 3:50 pm

Don’t know where the time goes, but summer is here and I’m sure glad it is. All the turtles and tortoises are now outside full time, except for the rehabs and my tiny Leopard torts. They come in at night. It’s so nice to see everyone sunning themselves and getting lots of exercise. We’ve had a large Sulcata here for over a month now who will be going to Florida next month, but for now is mowing the entire pen all by herself, and does a great job too. She must weigh over 50 pounds, but I haven’t had anyone lift her to the scale yet. I can’t, way too heavy. She sure does keep me busy. Don’t know how anyone can keep a tort of this size in their home. The poop I clean out of her tort house daily as well as her river of pee is enough to turn anyone off to the concept that these torts can be housed inside. Outside is work enough. I also have two 6 y/o Sulcata that are so small I had to really look at them several times to be sure they are actually Sulcata. Usually they come in huge at that age. These two are only about 6″ if that. They were kept in a 20 gallon tank and actually had room to move around, that gives you an idea of their size. Another female Sulcata I have here now is the most rambunctious trouble maker. There always has to be one, and she’s it. Can’t house her with any other torts because she starts trouble. Now another 50 pounder is due to come in, so this should be interesting.


April 18, 2007

March & April 2007

Filed under: Uncategorized — Julie @ 3:49 pm

I sort of missed updating for the month of March, so will try to cover all I can remember. It sure did pick up with rescues and adoptions coming in. I had a total of eight Sulcata here at once which is our new record for the most at one time, and I also have a pretty good sized Leopard tort. If it hadn’t been for the streak of warm weather at the end of March, we would have had 12 Sulcata here, but luckily I was able to ship four out then. I have two more Sulcata coming in tomorrow, so no short supply of them around here, sadly enough.
One of the Russian tortoises that I took in from the Reptile store that was in really bad shape hung on for several weeks, but didn’t make it. Poor thing was better off as I had to tube feed him every few days and his strength just never picked up. He was loaded with parasites and seemed to have internal injuries because there was the look of blood under the shell. The other one has done great and is being adopted out to a new home. I’ve lost count already of all the sliders I’ve taken in so far. Too many for sure.


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