10:45am Susan comes scurrying into the office with an unusual grin indicating she had big news. As we all stopped and looked at her, she turned to me and asked, “Want to visit CROW?!”
“Uhhh…” I responded, waiting for more information. “I have a snapping turtle that was hit by a car,” she went on to explain that she was driving home with her son Andrew when she spotted a large turtle in the road that appeared to have been hit by a car. So, in typical Susan fashion, her heart immediately went out for the turtle, and looking for help she called Sanibel’s Clinic For The Rehabilitation of Wildlife (CROW).
As most of you know, CROW has a mission on saving wildlife through compassion, care and education. Speaking with the hospital staff on the phone, they advised Susan to go ahead and bring in the turtle for examination, instead of leaving it in the road, in harms way.
So, how did I become involved in this rescue you ask?
Well, while Susan would have loved to take the turtle to CROW herself, she had a showing appointment scheduled for 11:00am with no time to spare. All eyes turned to me, as I said, “Alright. To CROW we go!” Hopping in Susan’s big, white Suburban with Andrew in the back, and the turtle on the passenger-side floorboard, I adjusted the seat for “tall people height” and headed on my way.
Under the impression that this was a snapping turtle, I was extremely nervous when the giant turtle started wiggling around in the yoga mat Susan had wrapped it it in. “Oh Gosh, its moving! Make sure it doesn’t crawl back there,” I told Andrew as we drove down Periwinkle Way. The 10 minute drive seemed like an eternity as I anxiously watched the turtle lift its head up and look around, becoming more and more comfortable in the car.
Finally, we reached the CROW building on Sanibel Captiva Road, across from the Sanibel School. Having never been to CROW, I pulled in and looked for the signs pointing me to the hospital drop-off location. “Hospital Patient Deliveries – End of Drive” the sign read as I shifted in my seating, driving slowly down the long shell-crushed driveway. “We’re here,” I announced with excitement and relief. Walking upstairs, we were greeted by a nice CROW staff member who followed us down to the car holding a small cat carrier.
“Oh!” he said, opening the door. “It’s much bigger than I expected,” he laughed, putting down the little carrier. Unbothered by its size, he mentioned that it was not a snapping turtle, just a Florida Soft-Shell Turtle. “Of course,” I thought to myself, after worrying the entire drive here that it was going to snap at my arm. While I thought this turtle was huge, I later learned that the largest Florida Soft-Shell Turtle weighs in at a record breaking 97 pounds!
As we went back upstairs, the CROW volunteers chatted about the turtle’s conditions in the examination room while we filled out a brief rescue form. “It’s very red underneath, but not in critical condition,” the staff reported back to me. They returned Susan’s yoga mat to me and thanked me very much for bringing in the turtle.
Checking on the rescued turtle’s status, we called back the next day to get an update on its condition. “It is in stable condition,” he told me, “and is currently receiving medicated treatment for the wounds.” He mentioned that they would hold the turtle for a few days, and would likely return it to the wild when its health was fully restored.
Turtles and other wildlife creatures in the road are a common sight on Sanibel and Captiva Islands. If you spot an injured animal, you should call CROW for advice on how to proceed. They might ask you to leave it be, or have you bring it to the hospital – either way, its sure to be a kind service for the animal, and a great story to share!
Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife (CROW)
3883 Sanibel Captiva Road
Sanibel, FL 33957