Found an Injured Turtle

I normally stop for turtles on the road and move them to the other side. Today, in a pouring rain, I came a across a box turtle who wasn’t so lucky. He’s had on leg cut off and his shell is broken, but her still seems pretty lively. He’s not actively bleeding (the rain probably washed it all away). but the wounds look pretty fresh. Any suggestions on how I can keep him alive until the wildlife rehabbers open on Monday? Will his carapace heal by itself? I know it’s not a good idea to move turtles from their habitat, but I know exactly where I picked him up. I want to give this guy the best chance possible.


Found this article about taking care of found injured turtles.

*If you find an injured or ill box turtle and it is during non-winter months, besides keeping it warm (85 degrees) and giving it a soak once a day, go ahead and offer it food. Some wild turtles will not eat when kept indoors. If it has a decreased appetite, feed it whatever you can get it to eat. Wild, injured and/or sick turtles may initially respond better to live foods such as earthworms or unpoisoned insects. Also try bananas and peaches. The rehabber in charge of its recovery will eventually get it on to a more balanced diet when its appetite has picked up. *

A couple other sites mention using epoxy to seal the shell, but I think that might be better left to a professional. From the above article, it seems that if you are only keeping it a short time, just try to keep him clean, warm, and hydrated. Good luck!

yeah, but this box turtle has a broken shell, would not soak it. And a broken carapace is very very bad. :frowning:

Good for you though, StGermain for rescuing turtles. Kudos.

Well, so far the turtle seems okay. He’s in a quiet warm place with some damp grass to munch on if he wants. I guess I can only give him a safe place for now. My equine vet should be coming out Sunday or Monday, and I hope to get him to the rehabber on Friday. It’s about 80 miles away, which is a long way to go for a turtle. Maybe they’ll have the location of a closer place.


Bless your heart for caring!

I have a friend who is a licensed rehabber, I’ll ask what you can do. Ages ago I found a box turtle and kept it for a few days…IIRC the only thing it would eat in my care was strawberries.

I just texted my rehabber friend and will relay whatever she suggests.

She says it’s important not to let the exposed tissue get wet or dirty. Superglue or a fiberglass patch on the broken carapace. As long as it stays clean, it’s fine to wait for a professional to handle the shell.
Quiet and warm with damp grass is good, she says.

Good on you, chiroptera. And I’m glad you’re not a skinjob!


When a turtle’s shell is broken, does it hurt? Can they feel it? I don’t know much about them, but I’m likening it to missing skin on my back. Even if I couldn’t feel my skin, the fact that my guts are exposed to open air would certainly suck!

I’m glad you’re doing such a nice thing, StGermain :slight_smile:

Presumably, yes.

Their ribs are part of the shell structure, so I’d expect it would be like a broken bone. Turtles don’t react as humans do, of course, but it would seem reasonable the animal has some awareness of the injury.

From the website Wildlife Rehabilitation and Release concerning the broken shell…

(bolding theirs)

Again, good for you, StGermain. We need more people like you.

The turtle made it through the night. I was thinking of maybe wrapping damp gauze around his shell, and then maybe some vetwrap, but I don’t want to do anything to harm it further.


I am no turtle expert, but I would think that preventing air circulation to broken shell would not be best, and certainly I would keep it dry, moisture would more likely cause infection to set in.

The couple of sites I did look at this morning, all of them said that if a broken shell, keep the turtle comfortably warm, quiet and dry. And I have no idea what a vet would do with a broken turtle shell. Hope everything works out, box turtles have been on the decline in recent years.

the lone cashew - I move turtles off the road all the time. I live in the country and not only do I see them often, I worry that “good ol’ boys” would happily smoosh them. People can be shits.


Depending on the nature of the break, general wound management (which actually includes cleaning and wrapping the area, not just dry wound treatment), antibiotics, and gluing the carapace back to where it should be.

I am all too familiar with the “good ole boy” mentality. You and I stand shoulder to shoulder on this. Keep up the good work you’re doing, StGermain. :slight_smile:

Didn’t see your post til now, KarlGrenze. Thanks for that. Would like to learn more about turtles.

My preference would be to not do anything with the injury (except, maybe, remove an obvious foreign object such as a leaf that might have fallen on it). I’d just keep the animal in a quiet, dark place of appropriate temperature with water available to it (or damp grass) and let a professional take care of the animal tomorrow. Keeping the turtle calm, hydrated, warm and safe from further injury is the priority.

A replicant. It’s a “Blade Runner” joke - there’s a scene in that movie where one character is giving a man he suspects of being a replicant a test designed to evoke an emotional response. One of the scenarios in that test involves the test-taker being told that he has flipped a turtle onto its back in the desert, and refuses to help it as it lies helpless and dying.

There was kitchy news story several weeks ago about a group of vets that fitted a large tortoise who had lost one of his front legs with a furniture caster on his under shell so that he could still get about. All hope is not lost.