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.
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.
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.
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