An Eastern long-necked turtle that was crossing the road and inadvertently became part of a high-speed police chase is turtley fine.
Car chase (CC) turtle was scooped up from the Barrier Highway by a 26-year-old man who claimed he was saving it from being run over and this is “quite believable,” according to Helen Semmens, who has been busy rescuing turtles for Rescue and Rehabilitation of Australian Native Animals (RRANA).
“For a female, she could be looking for somewhere to lay her eggs,” said Helen.
“She may have come from South Australia because they have had a lot of rain there.”
CC is probably about three years old, in good condition and began shedding while she was at RRANA. As a turtle grows, it can’t exit its shell, which contains bone and cartilage, so it sheds tiny shells called scoots from its carapace, its top shell.
She was RRANA’s fifth turtle to be rescued in Broken Hill in two months.
“We are lucky if we see one or two a year, then in another year we see a plethora of them,” said Helen.
Four of the five rescued turtles were released but one turtle had been run over, its shells were broken and it didn’t make it.
Helen said that whilst it’s wonderful to put water out for all the other animals, the best way to help turtles is for motorists to slow down in areas where there is water, especially after rain.
Out the south, this includes locations near the airport and Zinc Lakes. In the north, this encompasses the wetlands near Silver, Wolfram and Bagot Streets, as well as the Jubilee Oval area.
“Because there are bodies of water, there may be turtles so take care,” said Helen.
“They are potentially crossing the road to lay eggs.”
She said that sometimes it’s very hard to determine in which direction the turtles are heading but it doesn’t matter if they are moved to the left or the right of the road.
“If you can’t stop or call RRAANA, pass over them or go around them,” she said.
“We’ve got lovely wide roads in Broken Hill so it’s easy to move six inches across.
“Like with lizards, don’t run them over.”
Once a turtle has been brought into RRANA’s care, it has a brief stay.
“It’s often hard to ascertain if anything is wrong with turtles because they’re shy and will tuck away,” said Helen.
It’s even harder to persuade a wild turtle to take food. Whilst food is accepted by pet turtles, wild ones need the food to be placed into water but this spoils the water.\
“It’s a quick decision about their health, then we try to release them as quickly as possible so they don’t lose condition,” said Helen.
Sometimes during a turtle’s release, Helen has to wait 10 minutes for it to enter the water but after CC’s wild ride she had no such hesitation at Menindee Lakes.
“I took her to the water’s edge,” said Helen.
“Fortunately, a foot and a half from the edge of the bank the water was clear.
“I put her down and her little head came out, like she was sniffing the air, and she was off.
“She was ready to go, that girl.”
If you see injured or distressed wildlife, call RRANA’s 24-hour rescue line on 0429 204 416.