Mud Turtle Hatchlings and Raccoon Kits Admitted
The von Arx Wildlife Hospital is located and part of the Conservancy of Southwest Florida. Open 365 days a year from 8am to 8pm. Please call 239-262-2273 for wildlife assistance.
Two striped mud turtles and two raccoons were among the 89 animals admitted to the von Arx Wildlife Hospital at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida this past week. Other admissions include a limpkin, a black skimmer, a northern cardinal, a red-shouldered hawk and a peninsula cooter.
Turtle Hatchlings Found
Two striped mud turtle hatchlings were admitted after being found in a pool skimmer at a home on a golf course. Staff examined the turtles upon intake. Each hatchling weighed 2.5 grams (equal to the weight of a penny) and appeared in good condition, yet needed to be observed to ensure they weren’t suffering negative effects from the pool chlorine.
When staff settled the hatchlings in a specialized habitat designed for mud turtles, both hatchlings immediately buried themselves in the mud.
A third hatchling arrived at the von Arx Wildlife Hospital the following day. It was found in the parking lot of the City of Naples Community Services Complex. The turtle was responsive when handled, covered in sand, showed signs of dehydration and weighed 2.5 grams as well.
Staff marked the dehydrated hatchling to identify the turtle throughout its recovery prior to placing the tiny turtle in the same habitat with the other two hatchlings.
The turtle was placed at the shoreline in the tank and immediately swam into the water. A check on the turtle a few minutes later showed the hatchling had already buried itself in the mud.
The three hatchlings continue to receive supportive care as they recover in the reptile room at the Wildlife Hospital.
Female striped mud turtles can lay several clutches of eggs per year and the eggs can take from two to four months to hatch. Turtles provide no parental care for their babies; hatchlings rely on instinct when they emerge from their eggs and search out appropriate habitat.
So much of the natural habitat mud turtles utilize is fragmented by human development meaning hatchlings frequently encounter significant dangers (swimming pools, curbs, hot asphalt, domestic pets) in their search for suitable habitat.
Please call the wildlife hospital if you find a hatchling turtle and believe it needs assistance. Turtles should never be kept as pets. Turtles have very specific nutritional and husbandry requirements needed to grow healthy and strong. Improper housing and food can cause irreparable damage; dooming a wild caught turtle to a life in captivity is inhumane and illegal since several species of turtles are protected by state laws.
Raccoon Nest Destroyed
Conservancy Wildlife Hospital staff received a call from a construction site off Yahl Street after a nest of baby raccoons was destroyed by a skid-steer loader.
One raccoon kit was killed, but two kits ended up alive and were placed in a box by a worker.
While speaking with a construction site staffer and gathering details of the situation, the manager at the site decided to let the kits go and dumped them out of the box. With one baby killed when the nest was destroyed, von Arx Hospital staff were concerned the two surviving babies had suffered traumatic injuries as well and knew the babies needed to come in for professional care.
Staff asked that they put the babies back in a box while a volunteer was dispatched to the job site to transport the kits to our facility.
The volunteer arrived at the Conservancy with only one raccoon kit. A construction worker told her that the second baby ran away when it was dumped from the box and after looking could not be found.
Hospital staff saw the kit was clearly too young to have “run away.” Concerned the second baby was in imminent danger, off-duty wildlife hospital intern, Joel Reiter, went to the site to “search” for the run-away kit. “Search” is an exaggeration because the raccoon kit had barely moved from where it was dumped from the box and was easily located and reunited with its sibling already settled in at the wildlife hospital.
Physical exams on both raccoon babies showed they were in good body condition (obviously being well cared for by their mom), very scared and every noise and movement made them flinch. Staff monitored the babies throughout the afternoon and evening; each check showed the babies resting and sleeping comfortably. Staff tried bottle-feeding the babies a dilute milk replacement formula specifically formulated for raccoons, but they had no interest.
The following morning it was apparent one baby was in pain because she was vocalizing, restless and had no interest in eating compared with her sibling who eagerly took the bottle.
Staff provided the girl raccoon with pain medication, subcutaneous electrolytes and closely monitored her throughout the day to ensure proper pain management was achieved. Later in the morning, the second baby also began to show signs of discomfort, although his pain level was not as significant as his sibling’s was. Pain meds were added to his treatment plan as well.
By the third day at the hospital, both raccoons were successfully and consistently bottle-feeding and only required a mild pain medication. The raccoons continue to recover in the nursery at the von Arx Wildlife Hospital.
If you find an animal you believe is injured or orphaned, it is crucial to get the animal to a licensed wildlife rehabilitation facility. Licensed wildlife rehabilitators and our staff vet understand wildlife behavior, so issues of illness and pain can be immediately identified and addressed.
The von Arx Wildlife Hospital is a licensed full service veterinary hospital. The standards of care for wildlife medicine are no different from domestic animal medicine. Our hospital is equipped with a surgery suite, digital radiograph machine, a blood chemistry analyzer and all of the necessary medication and supplies needed in an emergency veterinary hospital. The best chance an animal has to make a full recovery is to receive professional medical attention from a wildlife veterinarian and wildlife rehabilitators who have skills and experience working with wild animals on a daily basis.
Three mourning doves, a Florida softshell turtle, four eastern cottontails, a yellow-bellied slider, a ruddy turnstone, a snowy egret, a gopher tortoise, five northern mockingbirds, a brown thrasher, a royal tern, a common grackle, a killdeer, a Florida red-bellied turtle and eleven mottled ducks were released this past week.
Opportunities to Help
There are many ways to support the Conservancy. Become a member, donate and visit our website. Learn about the Conservancy’s work to protect Southwest Florida’s water, land, wildlife and future.
Joanna Fitzgerald is the Director of the von Arx Wildlife Hospital at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida, 1495 Smith Preserve Way, Naples, Florida 34102. Call 239-262-2273 or see conservancy.org