Back in the fall of 2004 someone on one of the
Yahoo group lists had been posting about a turtle that was being kept in
the lab they where she attended school. After several weeks of
correspondence trying to advise the best care for this turtle, Vlad, the
Red ear slider (Trachemys scripta elegans), I asked the person if she
would try to talk the head of the dept to surrender the turtle if I paid
shipping to get it to me. I had no idea how extensive the damage was,
but knew the turtle was in pretty bad shape and this person was having a
difficult time getting anyone to listen to her and get the turtle help.
Eventually permission was granted and I had the
turtle shipped over night to me on October 4th, 2004 to
arrive the following morning. That was one box I will never forget
opening. The poor turtle looked bad enough from the look of the
carapace, but then I turned him over and took a look at the plastron.
One cannot imagine the fury that ran through my blood at that moment. If
steam could really escape ones ears when anger strikes that would have
been my release point.
Hereís what Vlad looked like when he came in.
As you can see, quite a bit of shell had already
rotted away and all that dead bone in the picture still needed to come
off. Vlad was now on a journey to recovery.
I think what appalled me the most was that this
turtle was being kept in the Marine Biology department of a large
university. There was a herpetology department within the university,
the head of the department of whom was consulted about the condition of
this turtle. It was not a recent arrival, but had been kept there for at
least four years.
I have to admit I got a bit indignant with several
of the staff members of the above departments, some were apologetic for
not helping this RES, but others swore this turtle was kept in pristine
conditions and vet care was provided. Well, to me a picture is worth a
thousand words, weíll leave it at that.
That poor turtle was treated for his symptoms and
worked on daily for months to remove the rest of the rotted shell and to
keep the area clean. Nearly five months later, after being dry-docked
for 23 hours a day, only given water time to keep him hydrated and to
feed, Vlad finally made the move into an aquarium. His lungs no longer
show through his plastron and the bone is healing nicely. Through all of
this he never lost his appetite, nor did he lose his desire to bite the
hand that feeds him. I always took that as a sign that I was doing the
right thing by helping him to recover and not euthanize him. Hopefully,
one day soon Vlad will go to a new home where he will be given the care
he so much deserves to live out his long life.
Hereís what Vladís shell looked like 03/16/05.
As you can see heís come a long way, but still has
quite a way to go before he is completely healed. Iím hoping we can
figure a way to patch his carapace so the little C hook from where he
lost so much bone doesnít keep catching on things, but other than that
heíll be ready to go to a new home soon.
August 22, 2005: Over ten months of
rehabilitation and although Vlad is not completely healed, he is well
enough to move to his permanent home. The person that rescued him from
the horrible life he was spending in the Marine Biology lab of a large
university is going to adopt him and keep him in her home. The shell rot
is nearly completely healed but still needs to be monitored and I'm sure
his new keeper will stay on top of it. He's come a long way and it's
been a long haul but he's looking pretty good for 3/4 of a turtle. He's
as nasty as ever with an appetite to match so I'm surt this RES has many
good years ahead of him. These are his most recent pictures which aren't
very clear due to my digital camera breaking and having to rely on an
old standby, but you can see just how much better he looks today than he
did almost a year ago. For all of you that offer donations, this is
where your money goes. For turtles like this. The care for this RES was
up in the hundreds of dollars by the time we factored in all the
medication the uvb/heat lamp, the electric bill to run that lamp, and a
good diet. That doesn't include the daily vigorous care he needed with
cleaning and treating his wounds, and keeping his tank water in pristine
conditions. Can't put a price on that, but in man hours, at least an
average of 1/2 an hour daily devoted to Vlad which is roughly over 300
hours. So to all of you who gave donations either directly or through
our raffle, Vlad thanks you. :-)
July, 2006:I have the pleasure of turtle sitting for
Vlad while his new keeper makes a move to new home. This is how he looks
almost a year after he left here. He's looking good and has made a great
recovery despite the horrid condition he was in when he came in here.