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Turtles/Injured wild turtle


I found a wild turtle that is bleeding from its mouth, its shell is 4" long x 3" wide. I believe it is a wood or bog turtle, it is definitely not a box or snapper turtle.  I found it in Ocean City, MD, near wetlands.

I called my vet and they will treat it if I pay, or will put it down for me for $30.00.  The turtle can still move and walked about 3 feet from when I found it until when I went back to get it.

Is the turtle likely a lost cause?  Is there anything I can do to help it?  I have to stay at work another 2 hours before I can leave to take it to a vet.
Thank you.

I can't and won't say that something that is still alive is a "lost cause". For faster response and direct consultation about it I suggest that you contact me at my facebook page "Wichita Falls Reptile Rescue" at

Bleeding from the mouth, the first thing I would have the vet check for is a fishhook, either visually through the mouth or via xray. You can't make a judgement call on whether something needs to be put down if you don't know what the injury is yet. There are any number of survivable injuries a turtle can have yet still bleed. I rehab them all the time run over by cars with shells busted to pieces and internal organs visible. Turtles have much better prognoses than other animals. If the vet doesn't know that, then he's not the right vet for this.

For now keep the turtle in a box, in a quiet and dark place, room temp, no direct heat, and no a/c or other drafts. Being too warm will encourage further bleeding and inflammation to get worse, but the turtle should not get too cold either because this will skew response to stimuli that is needed to get an accurate assessment of it's condition. First thing the vet should do after the initial check for the source of the injury, is to rehydrate with SQ injection in the rear thighs of Normosol R preferably, or another replenishment IV solution. Check for sunken in globes of the eyes. This is indication of dehydration, hypovolemia, or hypotension. Another important life saving protocol I use for cases of traumatic injury and head/oral cavity/spinal injury/inflammation is dexamethasone, .25mg/kg, but in the initial stages of bad cases I will often give a couple of times this dose to get them started.

After the turtle is assessed and stabilized, yo can let me know and I can give further instruction, find a local turtle REHABBER (not simply a rescue), or the option is available that you can overnight ship the turtle to me and I will rehabilitate it if it can be stabilized and the source of the hemorrhage found and mitigated.

Again, contact me at my facebook page and provide more pictures for better response. If the vet requires, I can be somewhat available for consult. I am a contributor. Let him know that. Also, as an aside, I have to say that for a vet to charge for humanely euthanizing a wild animal that is suffering is a bit off putting to me though. That said, how cheaply the animal can or cannot be put down or euthanized is not going to factor into my advice to you a bit. If it is still alive and can be treated, my advice is to treat, not kill.  


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YOU WILL GET A REJECTION OF YOUR QUESTION IF YOU FAIL TO FOLLOW THE INSTRUCTIONS TO QUESTIONER IN FULL!!. I am primarily here to assist with health concerns. I am here for the more difficult questions. Not for questions that you could research and easily find the answer yourself. I have stringent standards that you provide DETAILED and RELEVANT background history on your pet before you ask me ANY question about it other than GENDER or ID. The requested information is in the instructions to questioner. Failure to answer EACH of those questions to provide that background will result in your question being REJECTED. I can answer questions related reptile husbandry, identification (esp. in Texas and the SW), legal aspects, and intermediate-advanced level medical care. I am the director of Wichita Falls Reptile Rescue (TX), a wildlife rehabilitator specializing in reptiles, a founding member of The Society for Horned Lizard Preservation, a subscriber to the International Veterinary Information Service,,, and a Dept of State Health Services certified animal control instructor (CE) for reptile handling. I do most of my own veterinary care in-house. I am most experienced in Chelonia (turtles&torts) with box turtles and common smaller tortoises; and in Squamata (lizards & snakes) with everything from Anoles, Geckos, Beardies, and Monitors, to venomous snakes. I am most known for my expertise with horned lizards (Phrynosoma). With snakes, my primary expertise is in Crotalids (rattlesnakes), but I can answer a broad range of questions about various species. I am not aware of any reptile related question, in general, that I would not be able to provide some reasonable answer for. I have a direct style and may tell you something you did not want to hear; but the welfare of the animal comes first with me, and I will always reflect that position in my answer.


I am an amateur herpetologist, with 20+ years experience in reptiles. I am a reptile rescuer and subscriber to the International Veterinary Information Service. I have medical and scientific resources available, and have had to learn herp medical care over the years. I am not a vet, but I read from the same materials and have had to correct a few in the past, as it related to reptiles. My specific area of expertise is in Chelonians ( primary- Box Turtles ), Phrynosoma ( Horned Lizards ), and Crotalids ( primary- Western Diamondback Rattlesnakes ); though I have some knowledge and/or experience also with aquatic turtles ( primary- Red Eared Sliders ), tortoises ( primary-Sulcata and Horsfieldii ), monitors ( primary- Savannah ), many other smaller lizards, and with some colubrid snakes.

I am currently the caretaker of 5 Horned Lizards, 22 Box Turtles, 18 aquatic turtles, 7 fire Bellied Toads, 3 Green Iguanas, 1 Spiny Lizard, 1 Bullsnake, 5 Eastern Ratsnakes, 4 Great Plains x Eastern Ratsnakes, 1 Albino Great Plains Ratsnake, 1 Massasauga Rattlesnake, 1 Leopard Gecko, 7 Fox Squirrels, 2 Deer Mice, 2 Hispid Cotton Rats, 3 Merriam's Pocket Mice, 1 Cotton-Tail, 1 Former racing pigeon, and 1 Budgie. Previously: Leopard Geckos, Golden Gecko, African White-Spotted Wall Gecko, Mediterranean Geckos, Bahama Anoles, Ca. Kingsnake, Brazilian Rainbow Boa, Western Diamondback Rattlesnakes, Russian Tortoise, Savannah Monitor, and Eastern Cotton-tail rabbits.


Co-Founder & Director: Wichita Falls Reptile Rescue

Founder: The Society for Horned Lizard Preservation

Publications contributor. The Horned Lizard Husbandry Manual - self published 75 pages of care information on genus Phrynosoma.

Wikipedia entry "Horned Lizards" - contributed to a majority of the content., and various reptile related forums and email lists under the handles "fireside3" and PhrynosomaTexas".

My 20+ yrs of hands-on field, rehabilitation, and captive husbandry experience beats a PhD any day of the week. I am also a state accredited animal control instructor for reptile handling.

Past/Present Clients

I was requested to provide my care manual on the Desert Horned Lizard (Phrynosoma platyrhinos), for the Montreal zoo. My manual is also used by several other zoological institutions in N. America. I also teach reptile education to summer camps, and instruct wildlife rehabilitators on live saving and rehab techniques with reptiles.

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