How to Be a Turtle Hero

Amber did not know she would be a turtle hero that day when she happened upon a yard sale up the road from her house. Thinking she could use it for plants, she inquired about an old aquarium, with a cracked pane, and some dirt on the bottom. “What used to live in it” she asked the rough looking seller standing by the shed. “A turtle” came his gruff answer. Expecting that the turtle had died, She half heartedly asked “What happened to the turtle?”

Chilly on intake

“Oh he is in the bathtub in the house” came the unexpected reply.

Amber looked at the shack this fellow called a house. There was no electricity and no running water. “Can I see him?” she asked.

The tub had obviously not seen a good cleaning in a long time and it offered the turtle no traction, and over time had caused his nails to grow in complete circles. He had given up trying to move, and had no place to hide anyway. As Amber looked down at him, he slowly lifted his head and studied her face with piercing red eyes, her own eyes swelled with sorrow for this poor little fellow, and she knew she would not be leaving with out him. She learned from his current owner that he had belonged to his father before him and he really did not know how to, nor did he want to, take care of this ill begotten “pet”.

Amber did her research. After offering the turtle a nice drink and soak, and some berries, she went about finding him help. Amber brought Chilly to the Sanctuary on a hot and steamy July day in 2021, her small older model sedan had no working AC, and she drove for more then 4 hours one way to get him here. Her 4 hour return trip still gave her enough time to to complete her dialysis treatment once she got home.

Chilly after his first beak and nail trim.

Chilly has been here at the sanctuary for a year now. Progress is slow for turtles, their beaks and nails grow continuously, but very slowly. It will take years for Chilly’s beak and nails to look like a normal turtles, and it is questionable if Chilly will ever be able to live totally outside and brumate like his ancestors did, but Chilly is one of the lucky ones. Someone, A complete stranger, spoke up for him, and he is now happy, has a turtle buddy, and is living his best turtle life.

You don’t have to drive 4 hours each way to help a turtle, like Amber did. There are many easy ways we all can help turtles every day. Here are some ways you can be a turtle hero.

  • Help them across the road. Turtles live in home territories and cross the road to get to parts of their habitat. Always move them the direction they are going.
  • Leave turtles in the wild. It is illegal and unethical to take turtles out of their habitat and keep them in small containers. Turtles can live 100 years and often need new homes. You can adopt a turtle.
  • Create a backyard habitat and invite turtles and wildlife into your yard. Habitat loss is the number one reason for wildlife’s disappearance and struggles. Plant native, beneficial plants and leave organic matter like leaves that creates food and shelter.
  • Stop spraying chemicals in your yard. Pesticides and Herbicides are bad for all of us, causing abscesses in turtles, and cancer in our pets. 
  • Mow carefully and in the heat of the day when turtles seek out shelter from the mid day heat.
  • Spread the word! Many of our neighbors have no idea how big the struggle is for our native wildlife. Educate your friends and neighbors on how they can help, and like Amber, if you see an animal in distress, Please lean in. Be an Advocate and speak up!
Chilly eats a bug

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