Turtle injuries spike in Ontario thanks to wet weather and inattentive drivers

Turtles Shutterstock.com/Jukka Palm

This time of year is always dangerous for turtles. While looking for a soft, warm place to lay their eggs (sometimes traveling as far as 10 km to find the perfect spot), these turtles often attempt to cross busy streets and highways. Unfortunately, many are crushed by speeding cars and inattentive drivers.

The hospital at the Ontario Turtle Conservation Centre expects an influx of patients around this time, but recently, the numbers have been shocking. Over 600 turtles have already been taken in this year, doubling the admissions from last year. The centre is struggling to attend to this growing number, and while still taking in new cases, they’re asking for help.

According to turtle surgeon Sue Carstairs, the wet weather is ideal for this species. “This year we’re seeing the turtles on the move more than last year,” she told CBC. “Most of the ones that come into our hospital are injured on the road.”

 

Broken shells are the most common issue for the injured reptile. Turtle surgeons like Carstairs use things like endoscopes, dental drills, superglue, and even cable ties to repair damaged shells, which usually heal after about eight weeks.

The OTCC website states that seven of the eight species of Ontario turtles are at risk. Once turtles reach maturity (which can be anywhere between 8-20 years old), they can reproduce throughout their lifespan. But with rising mortality rates, turtles cannot compensate by producing more eggs. This means that even the slightest increase in mortality rate could lead to the extinction of the population.

“Every adult is vital.”