|"Don't you dare touch that *beep beep beep* tube, Shelly!|
|Shelly celebrated Halloween with some cool new shades!|
When the doctors cleaned up Shelly's fracture, they collected samples and submitted them for culture to see what was growing in it. The culture came back as they expected: a lot of nasty, nasty bugs. The bright side, literally, is that Shelly gets to go outside for extra sunshine time with the hopes that the UV rays will help kill the bacteria (they take off her bandage while she's taking a walk.) They're also trying out a new bandaging technique.
Good news: Initially we thought that Shelly would require surgery to close the crack in her shell. Because of the awesome care she's been getting, Shelly may not need surgery! Her shell fracture is actually healing itself. Scar tissue is forming in the crack, a phenomenon called "healing by secondary intention." When you have a cut in your skin where the edges are perfectly aligned, this is called "healing by primary intention." When you have a wound, a burn for example, that heals from the outside in, that's healing by secondary intention. That's exactly what Shelly's shell is doing! She is going to have a big scar down her shell but it will be strong and healthy as if the fracture never happened!
Our goal in rehabilitating wildlife is always to return them to the wild. Making a "pet" out of a wild animal because it is not releasable is inhumane. Forcing a wild animal to live in captivity because it is not releasable is inhumane. It's a completely different frame of mind than treating companion animals. For example, if you have an owl that is blind in one eye but is otherwise healthy, it is not releasable because without it's eyesight it cannot hunt "on the wing" (catching prey while flying.) The kind thing to do in that case is to humanely euthanize the animal. This conflicts with our medical approach in small animals-do everything you can to save the animal provided it will have a good quality of life.
Now for the really good news: Shelly may be released into the wild sooner than we expected! If her shell continues to heal and we can keep her infection under control, she's gonna be a wild turtle again!
For now, Shelly's just hanging out in a nice warm incubator, in her glove box house, having afternoon recreation time and resting. She's excited about experiencing her first Christmas since she usually hibernates through the winter. She asked Santa for a choo-choo train and a healed shell :)
Stay tuned for more updates on Shelly the broken-shelled turtle, now Shelly the Miracle Turtle!