September 7 - 13, 2014: Issue 179

  Toddy the Intrepid Turtle...!

 Toddy the Intrepid Turtle...!

Toddy’s story of adventure started long before she arrived at our surgery one Tuesday evening. 

We were just finishing up some skin graft surgery on a brushtail possum when a lovely young WIRES carer, Shari, rang up and requested an appointment for a turtle with a damaged carapace (shell). It had been a long day, but Dr Howard Ralph never turns away any patient in need. And thank goodness... We were in for a treat with Toddy!

As soon as she entered the surgery, she was like a little whirlwind. Busy busy busy. Couldn’t sit still to be examined; managed to tear up the surgical drapes on the examination table whilst attempting to escape; did ‘air treadmill’ whilst we held her off the ground... Sheesh - she was on a constant quest for adventure! No time for an injury!

We realised straight away that she was not from around the Sydney area - being a Murray River Short Neck Turtle. We figured she must be an escaped or released pet. But we would have to worry about that later. 

What she needed now was some immediate treatment. 

Dr Ralph was pondering how a little turtle could sustain such an injury. It looked like a blunt-instrument trauma. Or the result of a fall onto a protruding object. 

He put her under General Anaesthetic and began cleaning and debriding the wound to reduce infection. He then set about lifting the crushed section to reduce the pressure on the underlying tissue. Then he pieced the bits of the carapace back together with steri-strips and Tincture of Benzoin - like a puzzle. She was given antibiotic injections to reduce the likelihood of infection and some pain management. 

Straight after her GA, she was awake and knocking on her box to be let out...!

Dr Ralph wrote a note on her ‘puzzle’ band-aids: 

“Do Not Touch.”

He decided to keep her overnight for observation and we posted up photos of her procedure on our Southern Cross Wildlife Care Facebook page that night. 

That was when the pieces of the ‘other’ puzzle began falling into place... 

One of our followers on Facebook recognised Toddy from the photographs... She had, in fact, been babysitting Toddy for seven months whilst her family holidayed around Australia in a caravan! We were beginning to see where her sense of adventure came from...

And then she escaped.                                         

And now for the first part of Toddy’s story - as told by her human Mum, Tanya:

“ After travelling 37,000km around Australia on a 7 month family caravan adventure, Grace (11) and Saffi (8) were looking forward to seeing and loving their sweet turtle, Todina again. Little did we - or her babysitter - know that Todina had other cunning, turtle-y, awesome plans...

On the very day of our return to the Northern Beaches Todina escaped her holiday abode and went journeying through the torrential August rain.  The search parties were called out into the rain - looking and looking... And all wildlife organisations were notified of the lost chelonian.”                                          

“We tried to be positive and hoped for the best.  The kids said she could be somewhere hiding in the Newport bush... Well, didn't we see the biggest smiles when Todina was rescued 11 days later and taken to the wonderful wildlife vet for fixing up!  We still can't believe she survived and all the local kids think she is turtle-y awesome.  What is equally awesome is the person who picked her up and the beautiful veterinary surgeon, Dr Howard Ralph, who fixed her injured shell.  We think it might be fun to organise a fundraiser for Southern Cross Wildlife Care as we are so grateful to them for helping Toddy in her time of need.”                                     

These gorgeous photographs of Toddy and her family were taken and supplied to us by Maggie of Menagerie Photographs.

Some of the local neighbourhood kids and Grace with her beloved pet - happy to be reunited :)                                         

Well, Toddy - what do you have to say for yourself? If you could talk, you could tell us what you did, who you met and the adventures you undertook during your 11-day excursion.

We see that sparkle of adventure in your eye... 

Northern Beaches residents - keep an eye out for this little critter!

With thanks to Tanya and the Leishman family for allowing us to share their story.

Special thanks to Maggie of Menagerie Photographs for the beautiful images.

Grace holding Todina with Lupita and Goldie. 

Grace and Todina - A happy reunion. 

 By Lynleigh Greig, 2014.

Southern Cross Wildlife Care