The Chicken Turtle is an extremely rare, fresh water turtle found in the southeast part of the United States. Because they are known to be elusive creatures, when Good Samaritan Natalija found one just sitting in the middle of a Florida road, she knew the turtle must be in trouble. Wanting to help, she immediately picked up the turtle to find her back right foot was badly wounded. Although it is unknown what caused the injury, it was apparent by the infection and infestation of maggots she had been injured and sick for some time.

Natalija named her new turtle friend Pirate and took her straight to an emergency veterinarian. Initially it was thought the wound would be okay with cleaning and antibiotics. However, when Natalija returned to the vet a couple days later with Pirate to see the Avian/reptile specialist, she was told the only way to save Pirate’s life would be to amputate her dead leg.

Natalija wrote to the Ian Somerhalder Foundation (ISF), “Pirate is a very handsome turtle; she monitors the situation around her all the time. She is a real fighter and stoically deals with her horrific injury. She has a lot of life left in her and deserves a chance.”  Afterward, she was given a Medical Emergency Grant to help Pirate with her needed surgery.

Pirate’s surgery went well with no complications under anesthesia and she was able to go home with Natalija afterwards to recover. It was a couple days after surgery when Pirate began to eat for the first time since being rescued and Natalija knew everything would turn out okay. With the help of time, antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medication, Pirate continued to heal and become more active and alert. ISF recently caught up with Natalija to see how Pirate was doing and she reported, “Pirate is doing absolutely fabulous. Her leg has completely healed; she has a very good appetite and turned out to be one feisty turtle. She will have a forever home and will be well cared for. Pirate had her leg amputated due to severe injury and infection. Even though she completely healed, she is not as fast as a normal turtle, and since these turtles travel a lot, she has some serious disadvantage and her release is not a good choice. I will keep Pirate and make sure she will be well cared for the rest of her life.” Natalija further stated, “Watching Pirate go from a sad little turtle, who was in pain, infested with maggots and refusing to eat, to an energetic and feisty turtle was very rewarding. It taught me that with some help and medical attention, even serious cases could make a full recovery and enjoy their lives to the fullest.”



Written by Veronica Hampton

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