Becoming a wildlife rehabilitator involves a commitment to care for injured, ill, and orphaned wild animals with the goal of releasing them back to their natural habitat. Specializing in turtles adds a bit more to that commitment because turtle rehabilitators also become rescuers. There are many reasons for this, one being there are just a few situations when a turtle CAN be released back into the wild.
It cannot be released unless it is from an area it was originally from and not exposed to other turtles due to the fact that pathogens and parasites can be passed to existing turtle populations and to the released turtle. Rehabilitated turtles take much longer to heal from some injuries which can prevent them from being released in a timely manner. Hibernation periods need to be considered. Rehabilitators also are committed to environmental concerns regarding destruction of wildlife habitats. Some are involved with special programs such as captive breeding and reintroduction back into the wild. Education is an important part of rehabilitation. It is imperative that pet owners know how to properly care for their animals.
Each state has its own requirements for becoming a licensed wildlife rehabilitator. If you are interested in becoming a licensed rehabilitator, contact your local Department of Natural Resources or your Division of Fish and Wildlife office. Also, shadowing a rehabilitator or volunteering at a wildlife center is a rewarding experience. There you will see first hand the 'good days and the bad days'.
Some of our cases are below, followed with some links for rehabilitation information
The photos below may be uncomfortable for you to see. Please use your own discretion when allowing children to view them.
Index of featured Indiana Turtle Care's patients
Click on the photos to see their photos.
Common Map Turtle Midland Painted Turtle Hybrid Box Turtle
Common Snapping Turtle Eastern Box Turtle Juvenile Eastern Box Turtle
Alma became a patient after being found by a young lady in northern Indiana. From the extent of the injuries, it appears to have been caused by a large mower. The majority of the problem is the rear right leg area. The leg was lifeless with no response to touching or pinching. The carapace was 'sliced' from the back, with a fracture approximately 5 inches in length. Amazingly, the area was fairly well healed. On intake, antibiotics were administered as well as a thorough cleaning on the area. The leg was amputated, a shell piece stabilized and antibiotic ointment applied to the area. She is allowed to soak for a few hours a day where she is then also fed. Leaving her in water would contaminate the surgery site.
This painted turtle became a chew toy for a dog as he traveled through a back yard. The turtle received antibiotic injections, SSD applied to injured areas and kept dry except for a daily soak and feeding. He was able to be released.
This is a hybrid eastern/3 toed box turtle that was hit by a car. She is probably a released or escaped captive turtle since 3 toed box turtles are not native to Indiana. As you can see, the injuries are very serious. After consulting with my veterinarian, we decided to see how she would tolerate the first 3 days. She is one determined turtle. After the shell fractured areas healed, I then applied more permanent stabilization to the area, both on the carapace and the plastron. She received a series of antibiotic injections as well as tube feedings and daily soakings. After 2 months, Hybe continues to slowly improve. She enjoys going outdoors in her portable hospital pen where she becomes more active with both eyes open. I was worried about blindness, but she can see very well. I have stabilized her maxilla (upper jaw) hoping it will strengthen as one piece in due time. She continues to be tube fed but has shown interest in food when placed in front of her.