Musk Turtle Hatchling #22-3586

Admitted
November 30, 2022
Released
May 15, 2023
Rescue Location
Franklin County, Virginia
Cause of Admission/Condition
Inappropriate human possession
Status
Former Patient
Patient photo

Last Updated Jump to patient updates

On October 22, a well-intentioned private citizen removed a small Musk Turtle hatchling from the wild with the intent of rescuing the young turtle. Though no immediate dangers were present, the rescuer may have thought this small turtle was in need of help. They brought him to the Southwest Virginia Wildlife Center of Roanoke who transferred him to the Wildlife Center of Virginia for proper turtle care.

Musk turtles generally live in the Eastern United States and Southeastern Canada. They are named for the strong smell they release when disturbed. Musk turtles typically lay between three and nine eggs, hiding them under well-hidden nests under piles of leaves or in burrows. For their first few weeks of life, musk turtles will have a yolk sac from the egg attached to their carapace that they will draw nutrition from until they gain the strength to find their own food.

On admission, the turtle weighed about three grams and had some inflammation in one eye. The veterinary team did not determine an exact cause but suspect that it was likely due to improper husbandry causing corneal build-up or an upper respiratory infection. This turtle is currently living in the Center’s reptile room and will overwinter there in controlled conditions under the care of the rehabilitation team.

The turtle eats once a day. The Center’s rehabilitation team transfers him to a separate feeding tub filled with about an inch of room temperature water where the rehabilitators add the bits of food so that they can monitor how much the small turtle eats each day. His meal includes bloodworms, silversides, chopped greens, and pieces of a cut-up mealworm. If the rehabilitation team put his meal directly into his regular tank, it would be very hard to keep track of such small bits of food!

This turtle is now clinically healthy so the outlook is generally good! The main point of concern is that this is a small, young animal in human care, so the rehabilitation staff will continue to monitor the turtle’s condition for any potential causes of concern.

Check out this video of Wildlife Rehabilitator Elizabeth Noderer feeding this turtle!

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Patient Updates

Throughout the winter, Musk Turtle #22-3586 remained in the warm and cozy Reptile Room at the Wildlife Center. The turtle ate well and put on weight, one gram at a time, and remained healthy and active throughout the cold winter months. In Virginia, rehabilitation permitting conditions stipulate that reptiles and amphibians must remain in care until at least May 1, a more seasonally appropriate time for herptiles to be active. Specific release times typically depend on species and the weather in their home habitats; turtles are often released during the second half of May, after any potential frost dates. Aquatic turtles are usually the first to be released of the turtles, and on May 15, this tiny turtle was transferred back to the Southwest Virginia Wildlife Center of Roanoke for release. At release time, the turtle weighed in at eight grams – five grams more than his fall admission weight!