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Saving a turtle

Discussion in 'Not So Spineless Wonders' started by schmiggle, Apr 28, 2018.

  1. schmiggle

    schmiggle Arachnoprince Active Member

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    Today, as I sometimes do, I decided to go wandering around a bog (it had some bushes, but it was mostly . I didn't find what I was looking for--I hoped to find Sarracenia (pitcher plants) in flower, but it seems it not yet the season, because I found a bunch of plants but no flowers.

    In any case, one thing I did find was two empty turtle shells on elevated beds of sphagnum, one of which still had some leftover tissue. I read David Attenborough's reptile book several years ago, and one thing he mentioned is that tortoises that get flipped over sometimes overheat, because they sometimes can't get back up and leave. My assumption is that these turtles got out of the river that flows through the bog, wandered around in the bog, couldn't find their way back, and died from overheating. This seems like a pretty awful way to die.

    A bit later, I found a live turtle, also sitting on a raised sphagnum bed. It wasn't moving--it had retracted into its shell. When I tapped a leg the turtle moved it a bit. I decided to move it to the river.

    I would have liked to return it to the main river, but to get there I would have had to walk through several hundred feet of breast-height bushes in ankle deep water (though I had admittedly already been walking in ankle deep water). So I decided to put it in a nearer tributary. It was pretty unhappy by the whole thing--it kept waving its legs to try to get me drop it. But I brought it to the river and dropped it in. It sat retracted (while my heart palpitated) for about 15 seconds, then it swam off.

    This was a spotted turtle, a species I just found out is endangered. However, I am still concerned that it did not actually survive, or that I didn't help. It's possible it wasn't actually in the process of overheating, and even if it was, what's to stop it from climbing back onto the sphagnum that would have killed it the first time? But all the same, I like to think that I've brought a species one turtle farther from extinction.

    Pretty cute turtle, too. I don't have any pictures, but look up the species, if you don't know what it looks like and haven't already.
     
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  2. Galapoheros

    Galapoheros ArachnoGod Old Timer

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    It sounds kind of strange that they would over-heat with water nearby. Turtles are real good at finding bodies of water, I think the spotted turtle especially would since it's good at traveling on land. Snappers aren't so good at it, I've found those dehydrated in dried up ponds with other bodies of water close by. Has it not rained much there?
     
  3. The Snark

    The Snark هرج و مرج مهندس Old Timer

    Glad to hear about the rescue.

    Re: death from hyperthermia. It's a form of hypoxia and we are told it is painless after the initial onset. The pain receptors shut down relatively quickly and the animal simply goes to sleep.
    Unfortunately, hypoxia conditions tend to give rescuers hope when in fact the animal is long gone, biologically dead but still having reflexive movements, sometimes for an hour or more.
     
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2018
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  4. schmiggle

    schmiggle Arachnoprince Active Member

    It's rained quite a lot. This was my initial reaction, but here are the other factors.

    First off, there were lots of tiny puddles, which one would think might be helpful, but in fact they were all quite warm, so I don't think they would be effective at cooling a turtle down.

    Second, I was not only a couple hundred feet from water (pretty far for a turtle), the water was through thick brush. The bog had lots of bits like that--shrubs and dried reeds and whatnot. My guess is that this is part of what confused the turtle, and perhaps also made it hard to walk through.

    Third, I've seen lots of basking turtles, but I've never seen one that had retracted its legs like this one did.

    And fourth, there were a lot of dead turtles in a small area.

    However, it's certainly possible I wasn't saving anything. In that case, I will say that I don't think I hurt it either.
     
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  5. Galapoheros

    Galapoheros ArachnoGod Old Timer

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    It makes me wonder if some kids are shooting them with pellet guns, you see any holes in the shells? Maybe it's like an elephant graveyard for turtles. I remember when I was a kid watching my dad knock off turtle after turtle with a .22 rifle, he just wasn't a nature guy at the time, still hates spiders and snakes.
     
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  6. schmiggle

    schmiggle Arachnoprince Active Member

    No shell holes--that would make me so mad. Remember, though, I was ankle deep in water off of a trail, so I don't think too many kids are going there.
     
  7. Galapoheros

    Galapoheros ArachnoGod Old Timer

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    That's "why" I would have gone to a place like that as a kid but I guess things have changed. All my friends when I was a kid, we lived at the creek and explored floodplain all the time. Looking under logs and went tubing down the creek through the woods when it flooded, ...yeeeehhaaaaaaw!
     
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  8. Beedrill

    Beedrill Arachnosquire Active Member

    Have you ever seen fishermen in that area? Around where I live, I often find small piles of dead turtles. The fishermen in Oklahoma seem to have some sort of vendetta against turtles as whenever a fisherman catches one, they usually lop it's head off.... Unless I have anything to say about it.:rage:
    Around here, I've rescued a lot of unfortunate turtles in that situation. People are very ignorant sometimes, and assume that ALL turtles are Snapping Turtles and that ALL Snapping Turtles are out to eat human toes... It's very sad...:(]
    Anyway, I doubt the one you found was a victim of that since it obviously still had a head, but It's possible that the others where a result of this. I think you did the right thing either way. At best, you saved a life of a potentially endangered turtle. At worst, you made it comfortable during its final moments. :)
     
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  9. schmiggle

    schmiggle Arachnoprince Active Member

    Naw, it definitely wasn't about to die. It swam away totally healthily, luckily. The only potentially bad result is that it then climbed right back out and got lost again.

    There aren't really fishermen in that part of the swamp, since there didn't seem to be any fish. The water is very acidic, very warm, and very slow moving, so both oxygen and pH make it tough to live in. Plus, how many fishermen (and other people) are crazy enough to wander around a bog with chest-high bushes?
     
  10. Beedrill

    Beedrill Arachnosquire Active Member

    Well you and me for starters. XD
    Can't say for sure though. Guess it just depends on ho committed you are to pursuing your hobbies.
    Either way, hopefully the little guy you found will make his/her way in the big wide world. All we can do as animal lovers is point them in the right direction and wish them the best.
     
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  11. Vladaz1

    Vladaz1 Arachnopeon Active Member

    "it's not a huge deed but for the turtle it is."
    It's from a children's book.