We are very fortunate to have a wonderful resource, Arrowhead Reptile Rescue, in southwest Ohio. The following information was excerpted from their website. Contact an ARR reptile and turtle rehabilitator here or call (513) 442-HERP (4377)
May I take home an injured wild turtle and care for it myself? It is illegal in Ohio and Kentucky to take home and care for injured wildlife yourself. Injured wild animals must be surrendered to a licensed and approved wildlife rehabilitator or veterinarian. It is acceptable and legal to pick up an injured animal for the purposes of transporting to a wildlife rehabilitator. (Do NOT take across state lines... very illegal)
I found an injured turtle. What do I do? Please pick up the injured turtle and keep the turtle in a quiet, calm, dark area in a container with ventilation. Do not keep in direct sun or hot space. Do not offer food. Give water in very shallow lid or bowl. Do not allow to submerge or get wounds wet. Keep away from children and pets. Do not attempt to care for wounds, treat wounds, or apply any foreign substance, creams, or glues. Do not administer any medications or topical treatments. If you must, you can flush wounds with sterile saline or sterile water only. Place absorbent towel underneath if bleeding. Attempting to epoxy or fix shells on your own may make the wounds worse and impossible to heal, and may cause the turtle's death. Keep on towel or paper towels- dry for land turtles, damp for water turtles. Do not use litter, leaves, or dirt as this contaminates the wounds. Do not interact with turtle or "play" with turtle. It may appear curious and friendly, but rest assured any wild animal with trauma is terrified and frightened even if they can't show it. Contact ARR wildlife rehabilitators here and wait for a response and instructions. We are all volunteers and work regular jobs, so may not be able to meet you for the turtle immediately. Please be patient. We care about the turtle and will respond at our earliest ability.
I found a turtle crossing the road. It is not hurt. Where should I put it? Please move turtles found in the road to the side of the road THAT THEY WERE HEADING TOWARDS. If you put them back where they started, they will cross again. Many turtles have a re-homing instinct and will attempt to return to where they originated. If you move them somewhere else, they will cross many more roads to get back to where they wanted to be. It is not acceptable to move turtles to a new habitat or area.
A "dangerous" snapping turtle is a threat to local pets and children. Will you come relocate it? Snapping turtles, while menacing and intimidating in appearance, are fairly harmless as they are quite slow and unable to catch a person. It is illegal, immoral, and unethical to move turtles from their home to a new location. Snapping turtles in immediate vicinity of people can be placed or coaxed to the nearest closest water source which they emerged from. It is not acceptable to "eradicate" or "relocate" snapping turtles to another area. Please teach children and pets to respect wildlife and view from a distance, and not to disturb wild animals.
A turtle is laying eggs in my yard. What should I do? It is not uncommon for nesting female turtles to decide your lawn is a very nice appealing place to have a family. No action or measures need to be taken. Please enjoy nature from a distance and allow the turtle to proceed. The female will dig a nest, then deposit her eggs, and cover the nest and leave. You do not need to protect or move the nest, and it is discouraged to enclose the area in any manner as you may trap the hatchlings when they emerge. Please be aware of surroundings when mowing and performing lawn care around the area and monitor for hatchlings to emerge. It is typically a couple of months to hatching. When this occurs, again do not interfere and allow the hatchlings to disperse on their own.
I found a turtle in unsafe location. It needs moved or relocated. Where should we put the turtle? It is illegal, immoral, and unethical to move turtles from their home to a new location. While you may think the turtle is out of place where it was found, in fact most turtles live their lives in a very small range. It is not acceptable to move or relocate turtles to another area "for their protection". If you find a turtle in a place which you feel is obviously a danger, only move the turtle out of the immediate danger, but do not relocate to another area. Please use caution when mowing and caring for your lawn and watch for wildlife. It may seem like common sense to move a turtle away from roads and traffic, but the reality is that puts the turtle in much more danger and increased chance of injury when they have to cross many more roads to get back to where they started. Wild turtles must take their chances with roads and traffic and it is not reasonable to assume you can prevent that.
I turtle found it's way into my yard. Where should we put the turtle? It is illegal, immoral, and unethical to move turtles from their home to a new location. While you may think the turtle is out of place where it was found, in fact most turtles live their lives in a very small range. It is not acceptable to move or relocate turtles to another area "for their protection". If you find a turtle in a place which you feel is obviously a danger, only move the turtle out of the immediate danger, but do not relocate to another area. Please use caution when mowing and caring for your lawn and watch for wildlife. Seriously... if you move the turtle from an "unsafe" area, it will be in far more danger crossing all the roads and hazards to get back to where it wants to be.
I have emailed twice and called four times and left messages and no one has responded. Don't you care about the turtle? Please don't do this. We are all volunteers who work and have families and animals to care for. We will respond at our earliest ability. Before we can do that, we have to check all those messages, emails, and voice mails. Leaving multiple messages only slows our responses to everyone and delays care for the animal.
Is It Really An Orphan? If it is a reptile or amphibian, the answer is no. Reptiles and amphibians do not care for their young as a rule, and once baby reptiles and amphibians hatch, are born, or morph, they are completely capable of defending and feeding themselves. You will not find parents around a baby reptile, and it is not appropriate or necessary to pick up a baby reptile or amphibian from where it was found. Please observe wildlife respectfully from a distance and do not interfere.
May I Raise a Wild Animal Myself? Native wildlife are legally protected. It is illegal for anyone to possess a native wild animal unless permitted by the ODNR Division of Wildlife. Wildlife rehabilitators have a permit to provide care to orphaned or injured wildlife. If you have found an obviously injured wild animal, or know for a fact that the animal is orphaned, intervention is an acceptable course of action. But don't plan on raising babies or caring for injured wildlife on your own. Wildlife require special care and feeding that is beyond what the average household is prepared and able to manage. Contact your district wildlife office for assistance in finding a local wildlife rehabilitator in your area with which to place the young or injured animal, or find an authorized Ohio wildlife rehabilitator HERE.
Humans are always a wild animal's LAST hope for survival, NEVER its best hope. A young or orphaned animal should only be removed from the wild after all avenues of leaving it there have been explored.