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Meet Sluggo

Thursday, July 28, 2011

I have kind of an unusual Ohio wildlife rehabilitator's permit. It's for songbirds, bats and reptiles, specifically box turtles. Boxies get on the wrong end of our machines more often than I'd like to see. Cars, well, they usually don't survive an argument with a wheel. Lawnmowers are bad, too. Turtles' shells often save them, but lawnmowers can inflict some truly grievous injuries.

This handsome older gentleman came to me in late June 2011 from a wooded yard in Athens, Ohio, where the caller had accidentally hit him with a rider mower. I hate getting turtle calls because it's so hard to gauge how badly hurt the animal is from a verbal description. Is he bright? Crawling? How big is the wound? Where is it? Any limbs missing? That kind of thing. I still shudder when I remember the female boxy a couple of sweet young hippies brought me. They were very vague on the phone. Her shell was in pieces, apparently. "Yes, all the pieces are there." What they neglected to tell me, because they wanted so badly for me to somehow wave my wand and magically fix this hurt animal, was that the pieces were no longer connected to the turtle. They were rattling around in the shoebox with her. 

I could instantly see that this turtle had a better prognosis. Hey, he had a prognosis. What you're seeing here is not exposed flesh but pink shell bone, crushed and compressed, with the colored scutes knocked off. Oh, it had to hurt. The callers had done just the right thing--cleaned him up with some disinfectant and put Band-aids over the wound until they could bring him to Marietta. I took the Band-aids off and soaked a paper towel in Betadine, and let him crawl around  while the disinfectant soaked the grass and dirt loose.

Part of the protocol for turtles with bad shell wounds is eight days of Baytril (antibiotic) injections, at about $10 a day. Ouch for turtle and rehabber. These are administered in the back legs, one every other day, with a very fine needle. Still, it hurts, and the turtle purely hates it. This is the second boxy I've had who learned within a day to keep his hinders tucked and to crawl away from me using only his front legs.  That's what he's doing in the photo above--booking with his hind legs tucked.

I picked all the grass and dirt off, washed him, disinfected him again, and let him dry. I couldn't even budge the smashed-in shell pieces so I decided to let them heal as they were. He still had control over his back legs, though they and his tail were quite bruised, and I thought I could probably do more harm than good by messing about with the shell. 

Time for some spackle.

The white Crisco-like substance is Silvodine cream, an antibiotic cream for burns and deep wounds. I packed the wound with cream and got some Tegaderm, which is a surgical membrane that acts a bit like skin. Silvodine, unfortunately, needs a prescription, but Chet's veterinarian, Dr. Lutz, was happy to help with that and the Baytril, too.

Peeling off the white backing and laying the clear Tegaderm over the cream. It's adhesive.

Smoothing the Tegaderm.

Better. Not all better, but on the road to recovery without risk of infection.

Next: Sluggo, you HAVE to eat something.


Lot better technology than in Naraht's time! Good luck with Sluggo!

Julie, you are amazing...a box turtle doctor TOO?! Thanks for all you do for the wee beasties. - Linda Pharis

Ooh, I can't wait to see how the rest of this story turns out. It's so interesting to get your insights into the rehabilitation process! There's a pair of box turtles at the nature center where I worked--one was hit by a car and the other by a weed whacker :( The larger one, Chunky, has a fiberglass patch on his shell--another neat bit of turtle-fixing technology I wouldn't have thought possible. Sending good thoughts to you and Sluggo!

Ooh, I am so glad to see this bit of turtle treatment and repair. I have a three-toed tortoise that must be abour 50 years old by now. She seems OK, but the thought of what to do with her if she became ill scares me. A friend rescued her from the middle of a hwy in OK about 40 yrs ago and she'd traveled w/him ever since, until she came to me. She rode from job to job either in his pocket or attache case, eats cantelope, peaches, cat food (Iams, the same I feed my cat), strwberries. Won't touch the silly kibble from pet stores.

As you probably know better than I, turtles grow up eating what is in their little territory. Any way to know what would've been available to Sluggo where he was found?

I'm really glad to see this post because I want to know more about caring for mine, Ms. Turtle Elizabeth Deaton-Wright, what medicines are correct, if needed, etc., as we don't really have a "turtle practice" here locally, and my cat's vet can't help much.

If only one could interpret that knowing look in Sluggo's eye in the first photo.
Friend or foe, his look seems to say.

What a great story! So, when he's healed, will you keep Sluggo or release him?

If he proves releasable, he'll be released on the spot where he was found. I've got the family's contact information and am keeping in touch. Very important to get box turtles back into their familiar territory. They practically memorize it, after all. More story coming.

I love it :-) Can't wait to watch Sluggo's recovery!

Aw, gee So sweet, and So smart. Sluggo too! Good luck with him.

Kathy in Delray Beach, Fl.

Posted by Anonymous July 28, 2011 at 9:15 AM

Sluggo had very bad luck, followed by very good luck that FEELS like more bad luck. And how do you untuck those legs?

The entire Chelonian nation salutes you.
You put the CARE in carapace.

that thing looks like a open brain YUK!
Btw do you worry about your hair?
come check out what to do to prevent its fall
My blog
p.s. dont blame me for linking, it never hurt anyone :)

Get well soon, Sluggo!

turtles (especially box turtles) are just sooo coool; he looks full of spunk and determination, fitting for the name Sluggo. I wonder what he's named you, Nurse Good-hands?

Hey Julie,

Not really something I'm usually into but I really respect what you're doing for the turtles! That shell injury looked painful! The article was pretty moving as well, poor turtle!

Also - beautiful blog design, one of the nicest I've ever seen, I'd love to know how you achieved it as the domain shows its still parked on blogger!

Keep on doing what you're doing - it's encouraging to see people producing real quality content about stuff that actually matters!



@Cyberthrush: I think he calls me Appears With Melon.

@Marihuanko: OK. I won't blame you for linking to what I assume is your hair loss blog, but I still think it's tacky of you to do it.

@ Floridacracker: I can think of about 3,000 barking tree frog taddies who are cheering (silently, underwater) for YOU.

@Murr: You grab a toe and exert a steady pull. The leg muscles relax quickly and you can extract the leg. He still remembers and resents that. When he sees me he tucks his hinders in. No amount of kitchy-cooing will cause him to relent, so far.

@Dave: I still feel overwhelmed by cases like Naraht's. Here's to you for taking him on. Sure would like to see him sometime.

@Speedway: Snails, slugs, wild strawberries, black raspberries; earthworms when it's wet. Some live food would be nice for your turtle. Wish she could go back to the wild. Thank you for caring for her for so long. Maybe you can repatriate her somewhere?

@ James: My blog, thanks! was designed by a hugely talented Web Witch who is unfortunately oversubscribed or I would have her name and contact information front and center on the blog for all to contact. I get tons of inquiries about this template design and function. If only she had time to handle all her clients. I feel very blessed that she takes me on and makes me look like I know what I'm doing here. Thank you for your kind words. And thanks to Blogger for noticing--it's been almost six years!

What an interesting and wonderful story. There used to be a turtle that lived on our Missouri farm and loved to come eat our fresh peaches. When we found it out of season, it would happily eat canned peaches from a plate in our kitchen.

But I didn't even think that turtles could be treated. Thanks for the first installment of a wonderful story.

Ancient beings require ancient spirits. That is truly amazing. Wow. Thank you.

Bless you for what you do in rehabbing & caring for all things wild (and not wild). Love the post and look forward to the "rest of the story."

Poor Sluggo :(... get well soon...

Ma Nature thanks you and Sluggo will too! What a delightful portrait the first photo is!

I also have two tortoises now.Once I had three,and one of them had the same problem as yours,but I don't know how to cure it.So I put it into the river,I suppose that is good for him.

I am so happy SLUGGO has met up with you!

The best of good fortune to the pair of you!

from a lover of Box Turtles! Me!

Ive had a legtuan when I got it as a present she was only 15cm long after 10 yearsd became 2 meters long .once escaped in the house in malmö and climbed up to the nast aPARTMENT THROUGH THE VINDOW VENT IN THE OWNER OF THE APARTMENT GOT A HEART ATACK SHE WAS FRIENDLY BUT THE MAN vas frightened av her.

Legtuans gone wild! Ack!
Thank you for my first belly laugh of the day, Miklos.

Great story! My sister works in medical research for 3M (which makes Tegaderm), so I told her to read your post. P.S. This was my first year to try your monarch ranch idea, and I found my first caterpillar this morning! I've also been having fun watching the HOST of milkweed tussock moth caterpillars that found the few mature plants that have seeded themselves in hidden parts of the garden. It's been a bit of a battle keeping them restricted to the mature plants to save the new ones for the monarchs. Thanks for your blog!

Posted by Musicmom July 29, 2011 at 4:23 AM

Julie, Is there a way we could make a donation to help pay for the Baytril?

Posted by pickles July 29, 2011 at 4:56 AM

How does one become a turtle rehaber?


I have a real soft spot for turtles. When i lived in Florida id see so many run over by cars......Just to share with you folks, i have a new post today on Amish Stories from the Terre Hill days even that was just held in Lancaster Pennsylvania. It was a very hot day but i was able to get i think a few good images from this event. The town is populated with a mix of Amish and old order Mennonites which only adds to its charm. They even have what has become famous in Terre Hill their "outhouse race". The town sits on a hill so it overlooks Lancaster farmland in almost all directions. This is one of my favorite towns to visit because its free from commercialism, so if you are looking for a really all American kind of town with the added bonus of seeing its Amish and Mennonite residents at work and play, then this town is for you. Thanks folks. Richard from Amish Stories.

@ Pickles, Gee thanks! I have a Donate button on the right sidebar, under the cute pictures of Chet Baker.

@Pam: It depends where you live. I'd call your state or provincial wildlife department and ask for a list of wildlife rehabilitators (or search online for rehabbers in your area) and ask them what's required. Your question is too general for me to answer adequately, not knowing where you live. You'd probably need only a state permit if you live in the US, or perhaps none at all, depending on the state where you live.

@ Musicmom: Thanks so much! I'm so happy that something you've found here has brightened your life.

Julie I clicked on the donate button but it just takes me to my login. I'll need your email address to donate to Sluggo's recovery.

Posted by pickles July 29, 2011 at 8:46 AM

Hi Pickles--

You may need to log into Google and/or Paypal to make a payment that way--after all, no funds can be transferred unless Paypal knows who you are. I hate to make you jump through another hoop, but if you go to
and give me your email in the contact box, we can talk more privately. I have a lot of spammy traffic on my blog right now and I'd hate to have my private email hanging out there for all to spam! Thank you!

Wow, you are truly amazing. My favorite animal is the sea turtle but I love all turtles in general. I'm so glad that the lil guy has you to help him. I can't wait to see how the rest of his recovery unfolds!

OH WOW! Thank the gods of every religion for people like you!

I hope that Slugo is doing better. Has he eaten anything?
My daughter started squeeling "How cute" as soon as I started reading your blog. Good job caring for Slugo:) Congrats on being Blog Of Note:)

Cute cute cute!!


Hoping the best for Sluggo!

xoxoxo, cd

I am so glad you saved him! Good luck! I have a little fish pond in my back yard and noticed something in it that didn't quite look right the other day. On closer inspection it was the same type little turtle that had apparently wanted a drink and had fallen in and it would have been difficult for him to get out. Got my fishnet...scooped him out..and with his legs and head tucked in he was like a bobbing ball!
Got him back on solid ground and off he went back to whatever direction he was headed in before he took a little swim.

Very Cool!!

So cte

+ 1 follower

Poor sweet Sluggo, will say lots of prayers for him. How wonderful that God has blessed this world with people like you. Thanks for all that you do! Extra prayers for you too!

very good blog,visite

You have a lot of good karma coming your way. My daughter is the equivalent of the turtle whisperer. She has rescued and nurtured several. It's also common practice for both of us to stop traffic so we can help the little guys get across a busy road. I wish more people would do the same.

This was fascinating. Thank you for sharing your technique. I can see Sluggo is in excellent hands.

It always takes us much longer to mow here because we watch carefully for movement in the grass and have to wait for the toads and frogs to leap out of the way. It always breaks my heart when an unseen one doesn't make it.

Poor Sluggo! Here's to him making a full recovery.

Also I'm guessing you got peed on quite a bit when applying the "spackle" too.

Is it possible the shots may be affecting his appetite?

Wow, Sluggo is so cute,How I wish I can have a turtle like it too...I will surely keep track on this one...Way you go Sluggo!

Ahh, the world needs more "julie's" :) Thankyou for looking after the precious little things that sometimes have trouble looking after themselves!
All the best,

How you touched it. I am getting irritated to see that.

That's really nice, what you do as a turtle rehab doctor. It just makes me smile what people do to help other things in need!

So glad that Sluggo is eating Slugs (poor slugs, but guess such is life). Wish him/her a speedy recovery and a release back home. You are awesome. I will blog roll you when I get down to it.

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