DID YOU KNOW ONTARIO HAS A TURTLE HOSPITAL?
There are many people that do not know Ontario has a turtle hospital. As concerned citizens this makes it possible for each of us to be instrumental in helping injured turtles we see during our travels by simply making a phone call. For that reason it would be very helpful if after reading this article you shared this information with family, friends and associates and ask them to do the same.
If you will be travelling on the roads in rural communities, cottage country or the outskirts of urban communities during April to October being turtle season in Ontario there is a distinct possibility you may encounter a turtle crossing the road or a turtle that has been struck by a motor vehicle. This article pertains to those times you encounter an injured turtle and what you can do to help the turtle get medical treatment and increase the turtles chances of survival.
The Ontario Turtle Conservation Centre (OTCC) is home to Ontario’s ‘turtle hospital.’ It is licensed under the Ministry of Natural Resources & Forestry (MNRF) to treat, rehabilitate and release native Ontario turtles. OTCC is presently the only wildlife rehabilitation centre in Ontario dedicated ‘SOLELY’ to providing medical and rehabilitative care to the Ontario turtles. The OTCC provides medical care for turtles at ‘no charge’ and have turtle taxi volunteers to assist with transportation from anywhere in Ontario should you not be able to drive the turtle to the OTCC.
As the only turtle hospital accredited by the College of Veterinarians of Ontario, the OTCC helps support other rehabilitation centres that may not have veterinarians on staff. The OTCC assists other rehabilitation centres become more familiar with treating turtles, provide consultations and is available to them to act as a surgical referral centre. Through this collaboration and partnership as many turtles as possible receive help in Ontario!
The OTCC is located in the TVM Northview Commercial Plaza at 1434 Chemong Road, Unit #4, Peterborough, Ontario. The injured turtle hotline phone number is 705-741-5000. They routinely admit injured turtles, accidentally disturbed turtles nests and/or turtles in distress from all across Ontario. Once treated and rehabilitated the turtles are released back into their natural habitat at the point of origin, where it is hoped they will live a long life and continue to reproduce for many decades. Getting in touch with the OTCC no matter where an injured or turtle in distress is found helps to ensure the best possible care for the turtle and increases their chances of survival.
If you encounter an injured turtle 'no matter where you are located or may be visiting in Ontario' please call the Ontario Turtle Conservation Centre at 705-741-5000 as soon as possible. The sooner an injured turtle can get medical attention the better the chances of the turtle surviving his/her injuries.
The OTCC's trained staff will assess the turtle concern you have called about and determine the best course of action. If a turtle needs to be admitted to the OTCC it is always appreciated if you can drive the injured turtle to Peterborough but if you are not able to there is a 'Turtle Taxi' and a ride will be arranged via their network of 'Taxi Turtle' volunteers. OTCC is always looking for volunteers should you be interested in helping the turtles this way during turtle season.
The hours of operation vary through the year. Winter Hospital Hours are 9 am to 5 pm, 7 days per week. Education Centre and Gift Shop are OPEN for visits 9 am to 5 pm most weekdays and 10 am to 5 pm Saturdays – call ahead to ensure they are not closed for a tour.
Spring/Summer Hours are as of May 1st the OTCC is open 8:00 am - 8:00 pm, 7 days a week. Due to the the volume of turtles admitted during turtle season, injured turtles need to be admitted by 7:00 pm each day unless instructed otherwise.
If you find an injured turtle place the turtle on a towel or old cloth in a well ventilated container. Rubbermaid or plastic storage bins/totes/boxes with a lid that has air holes drilled into it work well. A cardboard box will suffice if a plastic container is not readily available but please be sure to make 'air holes' and that the box is securely closed possibly with duct tape. Injured turtles can sometimes experience an adrenaline rush as a result of their injuries. Please make sure the bin/tote/box is of a size the turtle cannot climb out of to avoid the risk of them escaping and/or aggravating their injuries.
Note: Do not put water in the storage bin/tote/box or give the turtle food, water, or medical treatment. You must have the turtle in your possession in order for OTCC to help.
If you find an injured turtle call Ontario Turtle Conservation Centre (OTCC) at 705-741-5000 ASAP and leave a message, they will get back to you as soon as possible. Please do not use Facebook Messenger to let OTCC know about an injured turtle. During the busy turtle season they get very busy and do not always have time to get on Social Media.
Should you call after hours and/or the injured turtle will be staying with you until a ride can be arranged the following day, please place the storage bin/tote/box in a quiet area away from noise and pets, preferably a room or space that is dark and is a bit cool. Do not give the turtle any water, food or attempt to treat the turtle with any kind of medication.
The 'Turtle Taxi' is a network of generous people from all across Ontario that volunteer their time to drive injured turtles to the Ontario Turtle Conservation Centre (OTCC) when the person who found the injured turtle is unable to do it themselves. Long-distance trips sometimes involve multiple drivers to get the turtle from the location the injured turtle was found to the OTCC.
Turtle Taxi volunteers are needed during turtle season for the occasional transport of injured turtles requiring medical attention. While some drives are local, OTCC does receive calls regarding injured turtles from all across Ontario in need of transport, so if you live far from the Peterborough area or you commute on a regular basis you can still help out. Once a person volunteers to become a Turtle Taxi volunteer their name will be placed on an e-mail contact list and they will receive emails that are sent out by the OTCC when there is an injured turtle in need of transport. Each e-mail will reference the location the injured turtle is located and needs to be picked-up from. Turtle Taxi volunteers only need to respond to an e-mail if they are available to do the drive. Turtles will be transported in closed containers – drivers do not need to handle the turtles directly. Interested volunteers do not need to have any experience with turtles to apply, but must have access to a vehicle. Turtle Taxi volunteers are sometimes called upon to help with turtle releases as well.
If you are interested in volunteering for the Turtle Taxi please e-mail email@example.com. For more information about the Ontario Turtle Conservation Centre please go to http://www.ontarioturtle.ca and/or OTCC news and events on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and/or Twitter.
FIX & RELEASE
If you have not watched the documentary, ‘Fix & Release’ we would encourage you to watch it. This is an award winning short documentary directed by Scott Dobson and produced by Jono Nemethy that is a very informative portrayal of the OTCC and the turtle hospital. It needs to be viewed by everyone! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sBCLZu-wVqw
Vet Tech Amanda Klack (left) assisting Dr. Sue Carstairs. Photo: Ontario Turtle Conservation Centre