Not your average rescue. This midland painted turtle was a very lucky girl. I have educated people for many years,my 19 year old son Jeff has come into my world and been a part of many rescues from turtles to a loon and a trumpeter swan. He & I have rubbed off on my husband Mark. How could you not. We live for our wildlife friends,photograph them,help them when in need and have done many biological/wildlife surveys for various reasons. We live in Big Bay Point, Innisfil. Jeff & I were responsible in getting the first turtle crossing signs up along this stretch of road were many turtles have been seen. A rich area of wetlands surrounds the road into the point. Some people say they have never seen a one. But others many. It is all in the timeing! I helped a snapping turtle across the road and when I got her across safely someone came to me and said. You know what. That turtle crossed right in front of the crossing sign!! No kidding I said. It just so happened it was our deputy councellor.I was so focused on getting that turtle to safety I never noticed. ( would of made a terrific photo).Main thing is we made it. Last year the snapper was number 7 of 8 species to be listed as a species at risk of special concern. One left not on the list and that is the midland painted turtle. This lucky turtle was on her way to lay her precious eggs when my husband saw her. He drove by and for some reason he turned around and went back. ( It didn't look right,he said. wasn't sure what he saw) Gut feeling was to turn around and go and check it out. So back he went. It was a painted turtle on her back with all 4 legs up in the air. She was trying to right herself but couldn't. She would of died. Not from her injuries but most likely a predator and because she was in a very vunerable position ,could not eat,get out of the hot sun etc. He gently picked her up,wrapped her in his sweatshirt,called me and got home. Found a plastic tub and put her in. She had been hit by a car. Her carapace(upper shell) was damaged. Her plastron(bottom shell) was cracked and there was a bit of blood under her body sitting on the plastron.One thing good was she was pretty fiesty. I checked her out and immediatly called the Karwartha Turtle Trauma Center in Peterborough. After assessing her condition as it was getting late and it was a 2 plus hour drive. We decided she was stable and could spend the night with us. I put heated towels around the outside of her bin and covered her to keep her calm. 6AM we loaded her up. She had a good night. And I was off. My friend Fran offered to drive. I was glad because she was a fiesty little girl. Wanted no way to be covered. She wanted to see what was going on. I had her in the front seat beside me and she kept peeking her head out the opening in the towel. So I decided when I went to Fran's car that she was sitting on my lap in the container. I uncovered her. And she was very happy to be park of the conversation. She was very cute and sociable. She was very active,a good sign. And I knew she was a female because females nails are shorter than males. Males nails are longer for the breeding process. On the way we had to stop and check on a big snapper laying her eggs on the side of the road by a wetland. Still had a long way to go so checked on the way back. She finished her job and got back safe and sound.
When we arrived. The trauma center awaited us with paperwork. As good a description as possible is important when you rescue a turtle to go to the center. It has to go back to wear it came from. A turtle carries a bacteria from it's area that could harm or even wipe out another area of turtles. It is critical that you write down all the info you can. GPS is good too. Not all of us carries one of coarse. When it is released god willing it will go back to that spot or at least within 1 km. After medical director Sue Carstairs examined our girl and I filled out the paper work that Olivia gave me. Our turtle was admitted. Sue found another area that was injured. This is were the blood was coming from. Along her side. And would take the longest to heal. She may be there until next spring. They would x-ray her to see if she had eggs. A week later I followed up on # 140. She indeed had eggs. Another follow up a couple weeks later ,she had laid 8 eggs. They were numbered as her eggs and would be incubated as her eggs separately from others. They would go home with Mom when time was right. There is no bond between mom and baby turtles by the way. But they will carry that same bacteria from that same wetland area. So they must go back there as well. So Mark saved not one turtle but all goes well 9 turtles. Amazing.This trauma center is much needed. Some of you may say. Why worry,there are lots of turtles out there. I see them on the logs basking. Ah yes you do. However,the females are the ones who travel to lay those eggs in the spring. The females are the ones who get hit. And depending on the species,turtles are not mature enough to even lay eggs from between 12-20 years. The turtle trauma center this year when I last called had I beleive around or over 500 turtle eggs to hatch. And 173 injured turtles of various species. Not all hit turtles survive. Our painted is very lucky. Also if you see a dead turtle, (TAKE IT IN,IT MAY HAVE EGGS THAT CAN BE SAVED)The females are the ones that mostly get hit. Meaning that all those turtles you see basking may be males. Our 8 species of turtles in Ontario. Only the midland painted turtle is not on the species at risk list to date. YET!
Habitat is being lost every time you turn around. Not significant they say. I think not.
Join the Ontario Turtle Tally from the Toronto Zoo at firstname.lastname@example.org or check web page at www.torontozoo.com/adoptapond/TurtleTally.asp and become a citzen scientist in helping to keep track of our Ontario turtles numbers. Great for adults and children. Register and get your ID kit today.
Injured turtles Call
Karwartha Turtle Trauma Center, Peterborough,at 705-741-5000 check out there web page at
www.karwarthaturtle.org (If you do handle a turtle ,try to wear gloves and wash thoroughly afterwards.)
The volume the center is experiencing this year has put a real strain on their finances,and the threat to close is real. We can't let that happen. Donations are much appreciated. Thank you.
The folowing are our list of Ontario Turtles and there rating on the SAR list.
midland painted NONE
Snapping turtle SPECIAL CONCERN
Spotted turtle ENDANGERED
Spiny Softshell THREATENED
Northern Map Turtle SPECIAL CONCERN
Wood turtle ENDANGERED
Red eared sliders NON NATVE SPECIES, these turtle are bought at pet shops and often as they grow,are let loose.DO NOT LET THESE TURTLES LOOSE. There are places such as Scales Reptile Park that may be able to take them in. Located just outside of Orillia.