Snapping Turtle #24-0578

April 11, 2024
Rescue Location
Lynchburg, Virginia
Cause of Admission/Condition
Suspected vehicle collision
Current Patient
Patient photo

Last Updated

On April 11, this (very large!) Snapping Turtle was found in a parking lot in Lynchburg, Virginia. The finder reported that the turtle had an injured shell, likely from being hit by a vehicle; while a turtle's shell offers great protection from predators, even large turtles are not safe from multi-ton cars and trucks. A Center volunteer was able to contain the injured turtle and bring it in for care.

An adult snapping turtle inside a large storage bin lined with towels, with bars and topical medication over its fracture site

On admission, the turtle was dull and did not respond to handling. The veterinary team quickly examined the turtle and found a large fracture on the left side of its shell. Luckily, a series of radiographs revealed that the fracture was not as deep as it appeared—it had not entered the turtle's coelom (body cavity), meaning that treatment was possible. However, the turtle's dull mentation raised concerns about head trauma.

After the exam, the turtle was weighed (11.9kg) and started on strong pain medication and antibiotics; due to its large size, it was kept in a tub next to the hospital's surgical room where it could be easily accessed for treatment.

The vet team anesthetized the turtle the following day and used specialized putty and metal bars to stabilize the fracture site. Over time, this helps the shell fuse back together, just as other bones can. After the procedure, the turtle was placed back in its tub to recover.

Given the turtle's dull mentation, its prognosis is guarded. The veterinary team will continue to monitor this patient for any changes in attitude and will clean the fracture site daily. They plan to move the turtle outdoors once the temperature is consistently warm enough.

This is the time of year when many turtles are coming out of winter brumation in Virginia, and you're more likely to encounter them crossing roads. If you find an injured turtle, contact the closest wildlife veterinarian or permitted rehabilitator. Make sure to record details of the rescue location so that the turtle can be returned once it has healed. For more tips on helping turtles, visit our help and advice page.

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Your donation will help provide veterinary medical care to this injured Snapping Turtle and approximately 4,000 other patients that the Wildlife Center will help this year.