Wildlife Suffers from Vehicle Collisions

February 1, 2023

The von Arx Wildlife Hospital is located and part of the Conservancy of Southwest Florida. Call 239-262-2273 for wildlife assistance. We are open 365 days a year from 8am to 8pm. We are a licensed wildlife rehabilitation hospital permitted to rescue, rehab and release native wildlife in Southwest Florida. Located at 1495 Smith Preserve Way in Naples, FL.

A Florida snapping turtle and a nine-banded armadillo were among the twenty-five animals admitted to the von Arx Wildlife Hospital at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida this past week. Other admissions include an osprey, a brown thrasher, a red-shouldered hawk, a gopher tortoise and a grey squirrel.

Severely Injured Snapping Turtle

A woman saw a Florida snapping turtle in her yard and presumed the turtle was dead because he hadn’t moved for two days. The “presumed dead” turtle moved when another turtle walked by which is when the woman realized the turtle was still alive and brought it to the von Arx Wildlife Hospital for care. 

von Arx Wildlife Hospital staff evaluate a Florida snapping turtle as part of the admission process. The turtle’s head, neck and legs were swollen causing the turtle to move with an abnormal gait.

The Florida snapping turtle weighed just over twenty-one pounds and was mildly reactive when moved from the transport bin to an animal intensive care unit.

The turtle had significant edema along its neck, head and forelimbs causing his head to stay outstretched at an odd angle and move with an abnormal gait. The turtle’s carapace was covered with algae and leeches. 

Staff developed a treatment plan to address the significant health issues the turtle presented with and placed the turtle in a recovery space in the reptile room.

There was little to no change in the turtle’s behavior the first two days of care. When staff checked the turtle during morning rounds on the turtle’s third day at the hospital, they found the turtle’s condition had deteriorated significantly over night; unfortunately, the turtle did not survive.

This is not the first time a live, albeit severely injured turtle has been erroneously presumed dead.

Turtle physiology is unique and sadly, turtles can sustain tremendous trauma but not die. Please, if you hit a turtle or see a turtle that’s been hit by a car, safely pull over and check to make sure the turtle is deceased.

Often times it can be extremely difficult to tell if a turtle has passed away from its injuries or is still alive and suffering. Call the wildlife hospital for handling advice if you are uncertain of how to help, otherwise, bring the turtle directly to the wildlife hospital for assistance.

Nine-banded Armadillo Hit By Car

It was mid-morning when a neighbor of the Conservancy found the nine-banded armadillo trying to cross Goodlette-Frank Road. The armadillo appeared disoriented and had an obvious wound on his left right hip. Hospital staff administered an antibiotic, pain medications and performed laser therapy before settling the armadillo in a large recovery enclosure.

Armadillo wound

Although the armadillo is injured, he is quite active; his recovery space allows multiple spots for him to “burrow” into the extra towels and blankets staff has provided. A large dish with dirt and earthworms, that the armadillo voraciously consumes, allows the armadillo to engage in natural foraging behavior. His fractured armor continues to require close monitoring, laser therapy and regularly scheduled bandage changes.

A nine banded armadillo eats a worm diet offered by hospital staff after having his bandage changed. The armadillo was admitted with a large wound along his right hip.

Hit by car is a common cause of injury for many of the animals; eight animals, including an eastern screech owl, a gray catbird, a Florida softshell turtle and an eastern cottontail were admitted to the von Arx Wildlife Hospital last week after being injured in vehicle strikes.

Wildlife habitats are drastically fragmented forcing animals to cross roads as they search for food, water and appropriate space. People can reduce the chance of hitting an animal by being more attentive when driving.

Driving at a slower speed, especially at dawn and dusk when many species of wildlife are more active may provide the time needed to avoid hitting an animal. 

If you strike an animal, please safely pull over and offer assistance. Many times animals are seriously injured, but not killed outright. Keep a ventilated box with a towel in your car so you are prepared if you do need to perform a roadside rescue.

We are currently running a fundraiser for the armadillo because he will be in our care for 4-8 weeks. You can donate to our Facebook Fundraiser for this long term patient or donate directly to the wildlife hospital online. Thank you!

Recent Releases

A yellow-throated warbler, six eastern cottontails, six sanderlings, six gopher tortoises, a black-bellied plover, a white ibis, eight raccoons and one grey squirrel were released this past week.

Opportunities to Help

Please visit the Conservancy website to view all of the amazing volunteer opportunities at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida. Your volunteer time, memberships and donations are vital in helping us continue our work to protect Southwest Florida’s water, land, wildlife and future.