We had a very interesting visitor last week when the rangers from Edwardes Lake Park brought in an Eastern Long-Necked Turtle. They found him with fishing line coming out of his mouth and rushed him down for a check-over by one of our veterinarians Dr. Tanya Lovelock.
In the consult room, Dr. Tanya attempted to look in his mouth but because of the strength of his jaw it was not possible. With assistance from our head nurse Lauren, she gave him a small injection of Alfaxan into the muscle to induce sedation. The turtle was then placed on oxygen in order to assist with his breathing. After a good look down his mouth they saw that the fishing line continued down his neck. Dr. Tanya decided that x-rays were the next step.
The sedated turtle was placed on the x-ray table and a radiograph was taken of his neck. Once this was developed they could not see anything abnormal and proceeded to x-ray his entire body.
This x-ray was much more telling and showed two fish hooks which had become stuck in the poor turtle's abdomen. Eastern Long-Necked Turtles are carnivorous and eat many different animals including fish so it’s possible that this poor guy found his meal at the end of this hook and line. The team then decided it would be best to send him off to the experts at Healesville Sanctuary for further treatment.
The following day we had a call from the veterinarian at Healesville giving us an update. The turtle had undergone a successful two-hour surgery where they removed the two hooks by cutting through his shell into his abdomen. He will now recuperate in the luxury of the Healesville Sanctuary and should be released in the next six months. It is a lesson to be very careful with your fishing lines and hooks.
This poor turtle's story could have ended up a lot differently!