box turtle

 Scooter the Box Turtle
When we acquired Scooter we were not sure of gender but later discovered Scooter is actually a female. She does not mind her name and we chose not to change it.

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Snapping turtle with burns

In the summer of 2009 we got a call from our vet about a common Snapping turtle. Apparently someone threw some sort of chemical onto the turtles head causing severe burns over the entire top of her head including her eyes. Another rescue group had brought the turtle into our vet to have the turtle euthanized. Or vet, Dr. Greco had the needle all prepped and ready to inject but he just felt he had to give the turtle a chance to heal. He called me and asked me to come and take a look at her. She had a fresh hatch of maggots which he rinsed off her face and I told him I'll take the 18" (shell length) turtle home and work on her but if in two weeks if there's no improvement, she has to be put down. We hate to see any turtle euthanized but if a turtle can't see it can't be released back to the wild, and there's just no place to keep a blind Snapping turtle.
 
So the rehabbing began. Every day a cleansing, debriding and applying Silvadene cream to this turtle and then hand feeding to keep up her strength. After a couple of days she began taking herself off of the basking area which was a great task for a turtle in such pain. Here's what she looked like on day one. She was pretty much lifeless and didn't put up much of a fight.

snapping turtle with burns

After several days and her finally taking to the water on her own despite not being able to see out of either eye, nor having her nose exposed, she seemed to finally have a bit of life in her and a willingness to 'make it'. When I would open her mouth to put a piece of smelt or porgie she'd not spit it out but would eat it. That was a huge breakthrough. I had to continue to open her mouth because she couldn't see but once the food was in there she began to eat with gusto. Now that two week mark was approaching and each day I would put on my best glasses and get out my flashlight and take a look at those eyes. I had been debriding the dead skin daily hoping to see a glimpse of eye and praying there would be good news. I kept telling hubby I think I might see a blink behind that scab. Then it happen, two weeks to the day, as if she heard me talking. I did talk to her, encouraging her every day telling her that her days were numbered. That 14th day it happen. I shined the flashlight in where I had debrided the dead skin and there it was, an eyeball! It was still covered in a film, but she could see. I knew this because I went to open her mouth while holding a fish in the other hand and before I could get her mouth open she lurched up and grabbed the fish! Woohoo! I don't think I've ever been so excited for a turtle before. Saved from the needle.  Here's what she looked like after two weeks.

snapping turtle with burns at 2 weeks

So from July until September I continued to work with her with the same routine. Cleaning and debriding and moved her outside into a pond out there with lots of plants and live fish and other live foods.  She got stronger each day and continued to heal. I figured one eye was better than no eye and she could survive in the wild with one eye. The left eye looked non existent. Whoever did this to this turtle was cruel beyond belief. This poor thing suffered needlessly at the hands of one very sick individual. We know this had to be intentional because there was no burn on the bottom of the head, so she didn't stick her head into something, someone threw this on her. I sure hope karma takes care of that person.
 
Snappy lived good in that pond and did us the favor of keeping all our pond plants under control for the summer as well as eating lots of fish and loved catfish and porgies. She was a big turtle with a huge appetite! When the end of summer approached it was time to set her free and she was about all healed up and I could not believe what I saw. Her other eye miraculously seemed to just come back. When I tell you I saw no eye when I looked in there, I saw nothing. But it healed. This is how Snappy looked at the end of summer before her release.

snapping turtle with burns 3 weeks later

I sure hope Snappy is living the good life out in the wild and whoever did that to her paid dearly for his crimes. Too bad people like that don't get caught!

 

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