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CROW shows visitors what it takes to care for their injured animals

By Staff | Aug 17, 2016

Rachel Walsh, wildlife rehabilitator, holds Sheldon, a gopher tortoise. ASHLEY GOODMAN

During CROW’s “Wild About Rehabilitation” presentation that is held weekly at their Visitor Education Center, guests get a first hand glimpse at what happens after injured animals arrive at CROW.

Rachel Walsh, a wildlife rehabilitator, who gives some of the presentations, has been with CROW for the past three years. Walsh attended college at Ohio University where she studied environmental biology. She interned with CROW for six months after graduation, shortly after, she was offered the job.

Last week, she gave a 45-minute presentation on the different types of turtles that are found on the island. Walsh said that she prefers working with reptiles.

“Honestly, they’re the most difficult to work with in a way because you don’t know how much they’re feeling pain receptor wise. But what’s cool since their shells are made out of keratin, you can try so many different things to figure out what works. They take forever to heal, but that also gives you time to figure out what works best and what doesn’t,” Walsh said. “There is just so much that is unknown about reptiles in general, which is why I think I like working with them the most.”

During the presentation, Walsh said that the No. 1 reason turtles come to CROW is because of fishing line injuries. The second reason is boating-related injuries. The clinic takes care of roughly 4,000 animals each year.

Rachel Walsh gives a presentation on injured turtles that come to CROW. ASHLEY GOODMAN

To treat the turtles that come in, the staff at CROW uses manuka honey and medical maggots for open wounds. For and damage that was done to the shell, they use super glue.

Walsh explained that a typical stay for an injured turtle includes injectable pain medication for the first week, oral medications and surgery as needed.

“They wake up to food, they go outside, we have grazers that come in almost every single day to take them outside and graze for at least an hour each and then bring them back in. We’ll do the medications and we’ll give them a small soaking tub where we’ll just put them in water so they can drink and get hydrated. They’re very easy to take care of for the most part,” Walsh said.

Each week, the “Wild About Rehabilitation” presentation is a little different. CROW rotates between programs on birds of prey, mammals and reptiles. Usually each presentation will have an animal on display.

“It’s nice because if you come to a different program the following week, then the chances of you seeing a new animal is high,” she said.

Rachel Walsh says that currently, CROW has eight turtles in their care. ASHLEY GOODMAN

During last week’s presentation, their mascot, Sheldon the gopher tortoise, made a special appearance. Sheldon found his permanent home at CROW a little over a year ago after being struck by a car.

Walsh hopes that by doing the presentations, she can help spread the word about CROW.

“My biggest thing is that people put our number in their phone. Even if you can’t help the animal call us and we can get someone out there. Let your friends and family know that we’re here even if you can’t bring them to us, we will somehow get to that animal,” Walsh said.

The “Wild About Rehabilitation” program is every Wednesday from 11 to 11:45 a.m. The cost of admission for adults is $7, children is $5. Twelve and under get in free. For more information, go to crowclinic.org or call (239) 472-3644.