Why wild animals should not be kept as pets

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Director of the von Arx Wildlife Hospital

31 animals admitted this past week

A striped mud turtle and an anhinga were among the 31 animals admitted to the von Arx Wildlife Hospital at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida this past week. Other admissions include two red eyed vireos, a ruddy turnstone, an eastern spotted skunk, a Florida soft shell turtle and five grey squirrels.

Mud turtle injured while kept as pet

The striped mud turtle had been found in the wild as a hatchling when the finders decided to take it from the wild and keep it as a pet. It was not injured, orphaned or sick.

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They had the mud turtle for months and kept it in a tank with another turtle. The young mud turtle was bitten by the other turtle it was housed with; the injury caused by the attack is what prompted them to bring the mud turtle to the Wildlife Hospital.

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A young striped mud turtle swims away as it is released by wildlife hospital staff.

Fortunately, the wound inflicted by the other turtle was minor. After several days of treatments the mud turtle recovered and was able to be released into the wild.

We know most people have only the best of intentions, but please do not keep wild animals as pets

Countless situations are presented to the staff at the Wildlife Hospital involving members of the public attempting to care for animals they have found in the wild.

Please, never take an animal from the wild and keep it as a pet. Keep in mind — state and federal laws exist to protect wildlife.

Wild animals don’t make good pets. Experience has showed us that animals taken from the wild and kept in captivity don’t receive the proper nutrition, husbandry and behavioral enrichment requirements needed to thrive.

As the animal’s health declines, people are ill-equipped to handle the situation. This is the time when the ailing creatures are brought to the wildlife hospital for care.

The damage to a wild animal kept in captivity can be devastating, and possibly fatal.

If you find an animal in need of assistance, bring it to the wildlife hospital immediately.

Our goal is to rehabilitate and release these animals back to a life in the wild.

Recent Releases — 14 go home

  • 1 peninsula cooter
  • 3 grey squirrels
  • 3 eastern cottontails
  • 4 mourning doves
  • 3 Virginia opossums

Please visit our website at www.conservancy.org and learn about the many opportunities there are to get involved.

Volunteers are vital in our efforts to assist native wildlife.

If you are unable to give of your time as a volunteer, become a member or donate.

However you choose to become involved, your support will help the Conservancy continue to protect Southwest Florida’s water, land, wildlife and future.

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Protecting Southwest Florida's unique natural environment and quality of life...now and forever.