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Turtle Assistance Day 5

Aug 22 2010
by Daniel Gray, DVM

Hello everyone!
Another hot, muggy, rainy day has passed by but it was a productive one for us in “turtle town.”
We had a 9a-5p day which was nice for us who have been on our feet for many hours this week. The morning treatment period only took about 2 hours to run through about 25 turtles but a couple had some special procedures done.
While Chelsea (a technician from Vancouver B.C.), and I worked on antibiotics and feedings; Dr. Pelton, Dr. Govett and Erin (a technician from Toledo zoo) were doing minor surgery on two turtles. The first patient is a Kemps Ridley turtle that has had some neurologic problems and came in almost dead. The doctors have worked very hard to keep him alive and he is showing VERY slow improvement but improvement nonetheless. Last night we vets decided he needed a feeding tube to make his assisted feedings less stressful on him and more effective. Since he can’t seem to swallow he has had to take all his nutrition via tube so we figured it was time to put a tube in.

The turtle’s neck was injected with a numbing agent and a small incision was made in the right side of his neck, then an instrument was put in his mouth, down his esophagus and out the incision.

Next a tube was fed from the outside of his neck into his mouth and down into his stomach.

Next, the tube was sewn in by Dr. Pelton.

Here the tube is checked for proper placement and his first feeding was given.

Here is our friend propped up so he doesn’t regurgitate his food. As he becomes stronger he’ll be able to swim normally after his feedings.

The next minor surgery we did was to an improperly healing leg wound on another Kemp’s turtle. This wound had been repaired once and had improved greatly but there were some minor healing complications.

Here Dr. Govett prepares the leg for surgery.

Here Dr. Govett removes poorly healing tissue from the numbed wound. The wound was left open with a healing agent placed in it. We will monitor this wound and clean it as needed.

The afternoon left us with more catch up radiographs and a large number of laboratory results to interpret. The turtle boats came back with no turtles again so it was another 5pm finish for us. We’ll talk to you tomorrow.