Invisible Voices

a voice for the voiceless

Ranger the box turtle

ranger on land

We welcomed an interesting new resident to Polar Spring on Saturday. Things often get a bit crazy towards noon with people showing up for tours. This past Saturday was like that, but one woman was there to drop someone off rather than go on a tour.

She told me parts of how she came to have Ranger, the cute little box turtle she was bringing to the sanctuary. A friend had found Ranger on the side of the road and (I believe) noticed that she was missing a foot. I’m not sure what prompted a removal type rescue – perhaps it was a new injury, or perhaps the rescuer wasn’t sure how best to rescue a turtle. Whatever the case, Ranger came to live with them for about a year.

And then for reasons I either didn’t hear or don’t remember, Ranger came to live with this other woman. I think she had Ranger for only a few months before she started feeling bad about having a box turtle in a cage. She would give her outside time and saw how happy she was. She knew of Poplar Spring because she comes every year to the Open House in the fall, and so she contacted Terry.

I feel pretty lucky that I got to witness Ranger being introduced to her new home. There is a quiet little stream, which isn’t much more than a trickle of water, but it is a perfect area in the woods for a box turtle. Other box turtles have been released there in the past, and Terry would periodically see them for years afterwards, so it is known to be a good spot.

She did a little exploring and while I don’t know turtles that well, I would swear that her personality was shining right through the leaves and dappled sunlight. She didn’t seem hampered at all by her three footedness – there was a little less traction from the footless stump, and you could see that there was some impact to her movements, but it certainly didn’t stop her.

The woman who had brought Ranger to live at Poplar Spring was so happy. Sad, in the sense that she’d miss Ranger in her life, but incredibly happy because she knew she was doing the right thing for Ranger. She was greatly cheered by the thought of coming to visit Ranger (or at least look for Ranger) on some other visits to the sanctuary.

Myself, I’ll be taking little breaks on Saturdays to see if I can spot Ranger. There’s just something about that little face, I hope I get to see her again.

Ranger in stream

I am never quite sure what to do when rescuing turtles. I mean, obviously, get them out of the road. But why did they go to the road, and do I know which side they were trying to get to, and if I don’t figure it out correctly, am I really helping them? I do my best, but they’re not always pointed in one direction or another. I don’t know much about turtles. I googled to do a bit of research for this post, and found some good stories and good information. If anyone has turtle rescuing hints, please pass them on!


5 responses to “Ranger the box turtle

  1. Ryan July 2, 2008 at 11:13 am

    The most important thing I learned about turtles I learned last year at Poplar Spring when coming up the driveway: they pee as a defense mechanism. And not a little. A lot.

    I guess that lesson is up there with “keep your mouth closed when scooping cowpies,” no?

  2. Deb July 2, 2008 at 7:36 pm

    heh. Ryan, you always have the most important advice EVER! 😀

  3. Kay Evans July 3, 2008 at 1:26 pm

    Hi Deb,
    I loved Ranger’s story and the great photos, especially the bottom one! I don’t have any hints for rescuing box turtles, but Ranger did bring to mind another type of turtle rescue. At least once or twice each springtime, I will find large snapping turtles killed on the road. I think that snapping turtles only leave the water a few times each spring/summer and one of those times is to find a place to lay eggs. So the probability is high that the run-over turtles may have eggs inside. I pick them up and bring them home and we cut them open. If there are eggs inside, we bury them in a protected, fenced area, kind of in a circle, with the top eggs being about 3 egg diameters from the surface of the soil. We have recovered as many as 21 eggs from one turtle before. Sometimes only one will hatch, and sometimes more.

    Cutting the dead turtle open is not pleasant, but she is dead, and it’s a chance for her babies to live. We call it Turtle Head Start.

  4. Deb July 3, 2008 at 1:37 pm

    Wow, Kay, that is awesome that you do that! I’d never have even thought about that, but it is such an important thing to consider. Thank you so much for doing that for the poor dead momma turtles, and for sharing it here! Hopefully someone else will read it and be inspired if they come across a run-over-turtle and suspect she could have eggs inside.

  5. Mary Martin July 4, 2008 at 8:06 am

    I find gopher and box turtles all the time here and I have yet to get peed on. And when I bring them to the wildlife place, the first thing they say is: Did “it” pee on you?

    My rule is like yours: if he’s crossing the street, help him along. I had all the same questions as you, Deb. My instinct is always to put them near the water. But maybe they just came from there and it took 45 minutes and now stupid me is messing up their schedule with my need to have their need be the water!

    The wildlife rehab folks near me say that unless he’s visibly injured or in immediate danger, leave him alone. Sort of obvious, but I guess some people assume that the turtle must need them for something and intervene for no good reason. Like when people see baby animals, assume they were abandoned, and proceed to basically abduct them.

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