Gertie, a painted turtle that had been hit by a car and left by the roadside with a shattered shell, is now out of danger. She is recovering from her wounds and should be back to her natural habitat soon.
When Gertie was first brought to The Wildlife Rehabilitation Center at the Wisconsin Humane Society, she was in a bad shape. Scott Diehl, the center’s director, put her back into shape using some most unusual supplies- epoxy glue and cable ties bought from the neighbouring hardware store.
Diehl says that she would have died of her wounds within a day, if not for timely intervention. The people at his center cleaned her wounds and removed the debris. They later attached cable tie mounts to her shell using epoxy glue. These ties were then sewn through the mounts and pulled closer, tightening them. This helped bring the pieces of the shell together. As she heals gradually, these pieces will reconnect on their own.
Tells Diehl, “It’s like any other [human] fracture, where you bring the broken bones together as close as you can.”
Diehl has reasons for choosing cable ties and an adhesive like epoxy glue. This method, he insists, is less invasive than the conventionally used methods and has been employed to help turtles with fractured shells recover earlier too.
One of the alternatives, tells Diehl, could have been putting Gertie under anaesthesia. “The vet would … pull various pieces together using wire that’s passed through holes [which] are drilled adjacent to one another on the various pieces,” describes Diehl.
Gertie is now getting better with every passing day, though still under pain relievers to help her stay comfortable. As her shell heals, the cable ties will be taken off.
The rehab center will release her into bigger enclosures gradually, to help her get acclimated to the outdoor conditions. They hope to be able to release her back into the wild next month.