It is important to know that Ontario has a turtle hospital.
Many turtles have been saved by people reporting injured turtles they find to the Ontario Turtle Conservation Centre home of Ontario’s turtle hospital.
There are unfortunately injured turtles that could get medical treatment but don’t because people ‘assume’ the turtle is dead or beyond hope. This page addresses this critical topic for the sake of any turtles that need medical attention this turtle season or thereafter.
Too often we hear from people that tell us they saw a dead turtle while they were driving or they saw a turtle get run over or they accidentally hit a turtle. This concerns us because in these incidents reported to us the turtle was left on the road or in a ditch instead of being reported and admitted to the turtle hospital. Making a roadside diagnosis from a moving vehicle or in general making the assumption that a turtle is dead can result in an injured turtle not getting medical attention that could save their life and/or save the eggs a female turtle may be carrying.
This information is ‘NOT’ being shared to shame anyone or make anyone feel bad it is being shared to ensure as many injured turtles as possible get help when they need it which increases their chances of survival. This is a page to learn from. If during your travels in a vehicle or on foot you spot a turtle that has been recently struck by a motor vehicle or you see a turtle get run over or you accidentally ran over and you think the turtle is dead or beyond hope it is your call how you handle this situation. We ask that you ‘PLEASE’ read this post and that this information weigh in your decision of how to best handle this type of turtle encounter. DO NOT ASSUME A TURTLE IS DEAD!
If you spot a turtle that was recently hit or observed a turtle get struck by a motor vehicle meaning a fresh strike please help this turtle get to the turtle hospital. Turtles are excellent healers if they get medical attention and if a female turtle she may not survive her injuries but some or all of the eggs she is carrying can saved. OTCC will harvest and incubate the eggs and the hatchlings will be returned to the mothers point of origin to be released into their intended body of water. If you observe dried up shriveled remains of a turtle, this is a dead turtle. If full onset rigor mortis is obvious by touching the turtle, this is a dead turtle. Turtle remains ground into the road pavement, this is a dead turtle. If you find sun bleached dried up remains, this is a dead turtle. A turtle struck by a vehicle that appears like a fresh strike is a turtle that could very well be alive and possibly treatable.
We have seen turtles rally back from the worst of injuries. Unique Body Chemistry Turtles have a unique body chemistry that includes a very slow metabolism. An injured turtle can appear lifeless but still be alive. A turtles shell could be cracked and broken in many pieces and there may be internal damage but even in this horrible state a turtle can remain ALIVE and it can take hours, days, weeks for a turtle on the roadside or in a ditch to actually succumb to their injuries. In the hot weather an injured turtle is more prone to die from dehydration. Either scenario means a slow and agonizing death. We as concerned citizens ‘do not’ have the medical expertise to determine if a turtle is truly DEAD. Even a qualified vet or individual specifically trained in such matters often needs to administer an ECG to properly determine if a turtles heart has stopped.
Rather then a turtle being left at a roadside or in a ditch to slowly succumb to the intense heat of the sun while in such a state, dehydration and pain from the injuries the kindest thing that could be done for a turtle in this circumstance is to call the Ontario Turtle Conservation Centre home of Ontario’s turtle hospital at 705-741-5000. Their trained staff will assess the situation. This could result in arrangements for the turtle to be admitted to the OTCC or the nearest first response team that is licensed and trained to administer pain medication while arrangements are made for the turtle to be transferred to the OTCC.
The final outcome in these circumstances may possibly result in euthanization but thankfully the turtle would no longer be suffering. If the turtle is a female she may be carrying eggs the OTCC medical team would be able to harvest the eggs and if viable they would then be incubated and the hatchings would be released at the point of origin where the mother turtle was originally located.
Should you have ‘ANY’ turtle related questions please do not hesitate to get in touch. We spend more time out in the field during turtle season, April to October then online so it is always best to phone or text Think Turtle at 647-606-9537. If getting in touch about a matter that is not time sensitive contact us via e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or through Facebook messenger. Thank you so for looking out for and helping Ontario’s wildlife!