Common Snapping Turtle, #12-1366

Hooked Snapping Turtle
Species Name (EN): 
Species Name (LA): 
Admission Date: 
June 18, 2012
Release Date: 
July 21, 2012
Location of Rescue: 
Rockingham County, Virginia
Cause of Admission / Condition: 
Swallowed a fishing hook
Released July 21, 2012
Patient Status: 
Patient Archive

On June 18, a person was fishing in Rockingham County and came across a variety of fishing gear that was left behind – a pole, a spilled tackle box, and various fishing equipment. The fisherman also spotted a young snapping turtle near the tackle, with a long piece of fishing line sticking out of its mouth. The person caught the turtle, and called the Wildlife Center of Virginia.

A volunteer transporter drove the turtle down on the evening of June 18; Dr. Miranda Sadar, the veterinary fellow, and Julia Jones, the Center’s diagnostic intern, admitted the turtle and performed a physical exam. While the turtle was still awake – and feisty – Dr. Miranda used the Center’s fluoroscope to visualize the hook. This tool allows the veterinary team to see a “real time” x-ray of the patient while moving the animal around in the fluroscope’s field of view. Dr. Miranda spotted the hook – which appeared to be in the turtle’s stomach. Dr. Miranda anticipated a potentially lengthy procedure – so she scheduled the turtle for a hook-removal  the following day.



July 30, 2012

On July 21, Snapping Turtle #12-1366 was picked up for release -- and was returned "home" to Rockingham County.

July 19, 2012

Snapping Turtle #12-1366 was scoped again on July 13 by Dr. Adam -- Dr. Adam reports that everything looks good. The injury from the hook can still be seen, though it has significantly improved. With the course of antibiotics complete, the veterinary team has cleared the snapping turtle for release. The turtle will be returned to the point of rescue in Rockingham County.

July 3, 2012

The re-check with the endoscope went well on June 29 -- Dr. Miranda was pleased with how the snapping turtle's injury is healing. Dr. Miranda was able to locate the scab over the puncture wound -- and found that a small bit of food was attached to it. Using a pair of small graspers that were inserted through a port on the endoscope, Dr. Rich, the Center's new veterinary fellow, attempted to remove a bit of the food -- but found it was too large to fit through the port on the endoscope! The turtle will be re-checked on July 13, and if all continues to go well, the turtle should be cleared for release later this month.

Watch the video:


June 25, 2012

Snapping Turtle #12-1366 remains bright and alert -- and Dr. Adam cleared the turtle for regular soaking and food on Sunday, June 24. The turtle will have a follow-up endoscope session with Dr. Miranda on Friday, June 29.

June 22, 2012

In the days since surgery, Snapping Turtle #12-1366 has been quiet, but alert. The turtle continues to receive its course of antibiotic injections every other day; this course of medication will continue until early July. If the turtle continues to do well, the staff will offer food to it on Sunday, June 24.

June 19, 2012

On June 19, the snapping turtle was sedated while Dr. Miranda set up the Center’s endoscope – a piece of equipment purchased in 2011 with the Chase Community Giving grant. The endoscope allows the veterinary team to look inside patients with a small camera. There is also a port at the end of the scope that allows the veterinarian to take a biopsy, swab the area, or, in the case of ingested fish hooks, grab a hook.

When Dr. Miranda scoped the turtle, she had a difficult time visualizing the hook – it was tricky to find, and there was a fair amount of debris in the turtle’s esophagus. With the turtle completely sedated, Julia and veterinary technician extern student Kait were able to stretch out the turtle’s long neck much more completely. After a few minutes of attempting to locate the hook, Dr. Miranda went back to the fluoroscope for a re-check. This time around she discovered that the hook was actually lodged deep in the turtle’s esophagus – a better set-up than if the hook was in the turtle’s stomach. With a better idea of where the hook was located, Dr. Miranda changed her strategy. With a bit of maneuvering, she was able to feel the hook through the turtle’s throat, and worked it into a position so that she could pop the barbed end of the hook out through the turtle’s neck – a much more direct and less traumatic procedure, overall.

Once the barbed end of the hook was out of the way, Dr. Miranda went back in with the endoscope to get the rest of the hook. Dr. Miranda suspected that the turtle swallowed the hook and line several weeks ago – it was clear that it had been in the turtle’s mouth for quite some time. After several more minutes, Dr. Miranda was able to remove the rest of the hook – and a lot of debris.

The turtle will need to be on a course of antibiotics, and Dr. Miranda plans on scoping the snapping turtle on June 29. The turtle will be fasted for several days, and the wound will be carefully monitored.



Photos from the procedure:

 Fish hook removal:

Side of mouth where fishing line was:

Healthy side: