Short Term Care for Turtles

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It is important to remember that an injured, sick or orphaned turtle, as with any wild animal, will be stressed when caught.   It is very important that it is kept in a dark, quiet place, away from children and family pets.  

If the turtle does not appear to be injured put it into an aquarium (not filled with water!) and place a low power (around 25 watt) coloured light globe, eg: a green or red globe at one end.  If a coloured globe is not readily available, use a pearl or frosted globe.  Line the aquarium with leaf litter, as they like to burrow and "hide".  Place a dish of water in the aquarium to keep the air humid. 

If the turtle is injured put it into a box without the light source, it will get too hot. Keeping an injured turtle cool will slow down its metabolism and will provide more time to treat injuries and resulting infections. Put the turtle in a dark, quite place and leave it alone until an experienced carer can collect it, or take it to a veterinarian.

Do not feed any wild animal for at least a few hours after rescue - they need to have their stress levels reduced and  too much human contact can send them into shock.  Additionally, it is very important that you do not feed a cold animal as any food will not be digested properly and the turtle may die. If the rescued turtle is cold you will need to warm it very slowly (unless it is injured, see above paragraph). If you warm the turtle too quickly it may also die from heat-stress related complications. An animal that is badly injured or sick will not want to eat.  If this is the case, just leave the turtle in the box until an experienced carer can collect it, or take it to a veterinarian.

Food for a turtle includes insects from your garden, lean mince or thinly sliced meat. A turtle feeds while under water and feeding a turtle while in care can become tricky. It is recommended that you get expert advice or hand the turtle over to a wildlife organisation or experienced carer as soon as possible.

Just remember to use your common sense when caring for a turtle.  You are caring for a wild animal, it is not a pet.  Keep pets, family and friends away from the animal at all times.

 


Click here for Fauna First Aid Resouces
where you will find a notes on the care of turtles
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