Dogs and cats often get a lot of attention when it comes to rescuing animals, but turtles need help too. Today, we will share the story of a rescue group that saves more than 150 lives each year.
Hamptons Rescue Turtle, located in Jamesport, New York, helps rescue, rehabilitate and release injured and diseased turtles. They work solely with charitable donations, as well as with the campaign to save the lost turtles on the island. The non-profit organization aims to provide a high-quality sanctuary for permanently disabled turtles that cannot return to the wild. In addition, they educate the public about the threats and challenges faced by the native population.
Welcome to Turtle Manor
His rehab center called “Turtle Manor” is a charming, fully converted 1920’s country house, which 150 of these wonderful creatures call home each year. Located on an acre of natural forest and man-made ponds, the sanctuary is home to permanently disabled turtles. Turtle Rescue of the Hamptons began in 2012 when it became clear that the animals in the area needed help.
Karen Testa, the organization’s executive director, says they save more than 200 a year that they wouldn’t have done without them. He goes on to explain that they give a permanent home to turtles that cannot return to the natural world. They “live their lives in our sanctuary with dignity and respect,” he says.
“One reward is giving them a second chance at life, especially on launch day.”
The organization supports 22 national charities and also retains its membership. Karen Testa is a New York State licensed rehabilitator, volunteer, and devoted advocate for animal rights. In 2011, she was honored by the Evelyn Alexander Wildlife Rescue Center for her tremendous work in the rehabilitation of native turtles. Karen, along with North Fork Animal Hospital’s Dr. Robert Pisciotta and a small team of volunteers, works selflessly to maintain the organization.
Facts about turtles
- These creatures are terrestrial (terrestrial) or aquatic (aquatic) reptiles.
- They are characterized by a bony shell that protects their soft body (the shell is attached to the body in rib-like structures).
- The fossil record indicates that turtles have existed for 220 million years, longer than lizards, snakes, and crocodiles.
- Being an ectotherm, the internal temperature of a turtle varies with the outside temperature. This is why you can see a turtle basking in the sun to warm itself before moving around or eating insects, snails, or worms. Turtles also hibernate during the winter to conserve energy and body mass when they cannot easily find food.
- They can live for more than 100 years.
- The tortoise is a government protected animal and should never be taken out of the wild.
- They are most active in the spring months.
Turtle species you can see on Long Island
This little creature is about 3 to 4 inches long. They have a smooth, patterned shell that ranges in color from olive green to almost black. Mud turtles are often found in fresh or brackish water. They are listed as endangered in New York.
This creature is 4 to 10 inches long with a smooth dark brown carapace. Its soft body is characterized by red, orange or yellow stripes. It lives in slow moving fresh water, and it feeds on vegetation and small insects or crustaceans. They are the most common species in the United States.
Eastern box turtle:
This species has a brown or black dome-shaped carapace with yellow or orange lines. Its soft body has yellow, orange, red or white spots and stripes. Males have red eyes, while females have brown eyes. They are the only land turtle in the US The eastern box turtle prefers a forest habitat with cool, moist floors.
Diamond Back Turtle:
Named after the diamond patterns on its shell, the diamond lives exclusively in brackish water. It has a distinctive pattern of black spots on its face and neck. They have large webbed feet and can survive in a variety of salinities, including salt water, for extended periods. The females lay between 4 and 22 eggs, three times a year.
This specimen has yellow spots on the head, neck, legs, and carapace. They live in wet, grassy areas near freshwater ponds and are 3.5 to 5 inches long. They prefer to nest in fields or meadows, but they can also dig a hole in the sandy side of roads. This turtle lays only 3 to 4 eggs at a time. It was once the most common tortoise in New York, but habitat loss has dramatically reduced its population.
Common snapping turtle:
The reptile of New York State, these creatures live in freshwater ponds and streams. Since they cannot fully retreat into their shells, they have evolved to break down as a defense mechanism against predators. They can grow very large, up to 20 inches long and weigh up to 35 pounds.
Young (also known as babies):
Newborns are usually as small as a quarter and remain next to the nest for their first week of life. From the moment of their birth, the young are completely independent of their parents and do not even see them.
Final thoughts on how you can help
Turtle Rescue of the Hamptons says if you see a wild one, don’t step in unless you notice signs of injury. Common signs of distress include:
-Anyone found from October to March (they should be hibernating)
-Injuries by predator, vehicle or machine
– Immobile for more than a few hours
-Lack of member
-Bump by ear (s)
-Bubbles or mucus from the nose or mouth
-Making gurgling noises
-Any liquid discharge
If you see a turtle that needs help, be sure to call your wildlife sanctuary that can rehabilitate turtles. If you don’t have one near you, you can take it to a vet who treats wild patients for free. You can check this website for a list of veterinarians and wildlife rescues near you. If you would like to donate to Turtle Rescue of the Hamptons, you can do so here.