Snapping Turtle #15-1714

Admission Date: 
August 2, 2015
Release Date: 
August 22, 2015
Location of Rescue: 
Orange County, VA
Cause of Admission / Condition: 
Swallowed fish hook
Patient Status: 
Patient Archive

On August 2, an adult Snapping Turtle was admitted to the Center after it swallowed a fish hook. Dr. Dana performed the initial examination and found the turtle to be in good condition with no other abnormalities. Radiographs were taken and revealed the hook was in the lower esophagus, close to the turtle’s stomach. Follow-up radiographs and surgery were scheduled for the following day. Snapping Turtle #15- 1714 was fasted overnight and started on a regimen of antibiotics and pain medication.

The next day, follow-up radiographs were taken and revealed that the hook had remained in place and could possibly be removed with forceps located on the end of an endoscope [flexible, long tube with a small camera and light at the end]. The Snapping Turtle was placed under anesthesia and a scoping tube was passed through the oral cavity to locate the hook. Once the hook was located, Dr. Dana attempted to remove the hook, but was unable to remove the hook safely. Fearing that the barbed end of the hook had penetrated the esophagus, Dr. Dana decided to make a tiny incision on the dorsal side [top] of the turtle’s neck to remove the hook.



  Dr. Dana carefully made a small incision, cut the hook in half with wire cutters in order to remove it without damaging tissue, and placed two sutures to close the wound after the two pieces of hook were successfully removed. After Snapping Turtle #15-1714 slowly recovered from anesthesia, it was placed in the Center’s reptile room overnight. During the following week, the turtle remained bright, alert, and feisty, and the incision site remained clean and closed.

On August 17, the veterinary team determined the surgery site was healed, and the sutures were ready to be removed. However, because the incision site is relatively close to the turtle’s powerful jaws, the veterinary staff was unable to safely remove the two sutures. While the sutures are absorbable, the team will consider sedating the turtle in order to safely remove the stitches prior to release. The Center staff will continue to monitor Snapping Turtle #15-1714 in the coming week and evaluate the turtle for release.

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August 25, 2015

On August 18, Dr. Helen sedated Snapping Turtle #15-1714 and removed the sutures from the turtle’s surgical site. The surgical site looked well-healed and the turtle was bright and alert. Blood was drawn for pre-release blood work, and the turtle was cleared for release by August 21.

The turtle’s rescuers released the turtle at the initial rescue location in Orange County on August 22.