This week, the Wildlife Center is celebrating World Turtle Day – which takes place on May 23. This day, sponsored by the American Tortoise Rescue, is designed to bring attention to, and increase knowledge of and respect for, turtles and tortoises, and to encourage human action to help them survive and thrive.
So how are we celebrating this week?
After a long winter of recovery and rehabilitation, five Eastern Box Turtles are returning to the wild this week:
Eastern Box Turtle #12-1938. This turtle was likely hit by a car in Roanoke in August 2012. After 283 days of treatment, the turtle was returned to a permitted rehabilitator for release.
Eastern Box Turtle #12-2269. Found in Albemarle County, this turtle was hit by a vehicle and admitted to the Center in September 2012. On May 18, 2013, the turtle was released in the same area where it was found. Days in treatment: 250.
Eastern Box Turtle #12-2419. This female turtle was found in Fluvanna County on October 2. She suffered multiple shell fractures; the veterinary team suspect she was hit by a vehicle. This turtle will be released this week. Days in treatment: 232+.
Eastern Box Turtle #12-2486. Homeowners found this turtle in their backyard in October 2012, the turtle was missing its hind foot and appeared ill. After 209 days of treatment, this turtle was returned to its original point of rescue.
Eastern Box Turtle #12-2487. This turtle was attacked by a dog and suffered shell fractures and lacerations. At the Wildlife Center since October 2012, the turtle will be released within the next week. Days in treatment: 214+.
Twelve turtles remain at the Wildlife Center – six of these turtles are non-releasable and will soon be leaving for their new education homes; six turtles are in recovery and remain hospitalized.
In other turtle and tortoise areas, we celebrate Wilson and Emma — the WCV’s education turtle and tortoise. Emma will be relaxing as usual at the Wildlife Center, but Wilson will be out working -- he's traveling with outreach coordinator Raina to teach three programs on May 23!
Need help in figuring out how you should celebrate World Turtle Day?
- Read – or re-read – the archived Wildlife Center Classroom Series: All About Turtles!
- Don’t ever keep a wild turtle as a pet. If you truly desire a pet reptile and can make all of the commitments necessary to keeping a healthy, happy herp, please look into adopting. Captive-bred reptiles or rescued turtles are available for adoption in the state of Virginia through several different organizations such as Virginia Reptile Rescue.
- Assist turtles crossing a road by carrying them across in the direction they’re headed. Many turtles crossing roads are egg-laden females looking for appropriate nesting sites.
- Do NOT relocate a turtle to a “better place”. Turtles have small home territories and should be left where they are found. Their survivability depends on it!
- Take special care when dealing with a Snapping Turtle. These turtles may be as much as 19 inches long, weigh up to 35 pounds, have powerful jaws, and a long neck . To handle a large Snapping Turtle safely, avoid the front half of the turtle’s body. While wearing gloves, place one hand on the base of the turtle’s tail – to help stabilize and secure the turtle – and slide the other hand halfway under the turtle’s shell.
- Watch out for turtles and other wildlife when mowing lawns and doing other yard-work.
- Adopt Wilson or Emma through the Center’s Caring for Critters sponsorship program. Celebrate with them year-round!
- Learn more about the turtles in your area. The Virginia Herpetological Society has great information on Virginia’s wild turtles.
- Help monitor the declining Eastern Box Turtle population in Virginia by filling out this Box Turtle Reporting form whenever you encounter one!
- If you find an injured turtle, put it in a box and contact the Wildlife Center of Virginia or a permitted wildlife rehabilitator. Make sure to record details of the rescue location so that the turtle can be returned there once it has healed.
- Tune in to your local "oldies" radio station ... and request songs by "The Turtles." Share these turtle tips with the station!
- Keep domestic animals indoors or on leashes. Free-roaming dogs and cats injure and kill millions of wild animals each year.
- Always wash your hands with soap and water after handling a turtle.
We hope you have a happy World Turtle Day!