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Community Saves Wounded Snapping Turtle From Penrose Window Well

The Penrose community helped save a wounded snapping turtle from being stuck in a window well last week.

On Wednesday (June 23), The Animal Welfare League of Arlington received a call from a concerned citizen about a rather large turtle inside of a window well of a Penrose house on the 800 block of S. Wayne Street.

AWLA dispatched an officer, who removed the turtle and contacted the licensed Virginia rehabber Olivia Lobalbo of Animal Education and Rescue Organization. It was thought that the turtle was female and potentially a mother-to-be since they often only come on to land to lay eggs.

“The rehabber assessed the situation and stated that the turtle was likely laying eggs in the area and to place it nearby in a safe space,” Jen Toussaint, Chief of Animal Control for the AWLA, tells ARLnow.

They decided to allow the turtle to make its way back home. So, AWLA asked folks in the neighborhood to monitor the turtle and stay in touch with the organization.

Over the next few days, the likely mama turtle was seen (slowly) moving through multiple Penrose yards. Eventually, it made its way to the corner of 9th Street S. and S. Wayne Street, according to a post on Nextdoor. At that point, it became clear that action needed to be taken.

“She had gone through multiple yards but was heading in the direction of attempting to cross Columbia Pike and one person noted seeing some flies,” wrote Toussaint. “Flies can be a sign that something is wrong or there is an injury.”

An AWLA officer again came back out on Saturday (June 26), as did Lobalbo from AERO, who took the turtle into their care.

Later, upon inspecting, Lobalbo found the turtle had a hole in its shell and an infected wound.

“I realized that there is a little bit of tissue that grew over the hole in the shell, but underneath was very much infected, and not healing well at all,” Lobaldo writes to ARLnow. “I have done my best to debride it… which seems to been a huge benefit as she is feeling better already. I’ve even gotten her to eat!”

Lobaldo confirms that she expects the turtle to recover and be released back into the wild soon.

Snapping turtles are not uncommon in the area, Toussaint notes. However, this was the first time she can remember finding one stuck in a window well.

“Window wells can be very dangerous for small wildlife this time of year,” writes Toussaint. “We strongly encourage residents to have window well covers that prevent debris and small animals like bunnies and chipmunks and now turtles from falling in and being trapped.”

It was due to the Penrose community’s diligent monitoring of the wounded mother turtle, says Toussaint, that AWLA was able to get her the help she needed.

“Extend my thank you to the Penrose community and AERO for looking out for this little girl and helping us ensure her safety,” Toussaint writes. “Arlington is such an amazingly animal friendly community and it’s a pleasure to work here in service to our community’s wild neighbors!”

In recent months, AWLA has been called on a number of times to help out Arlington’s animal neighbors including birds, a baby fox, and a really old cat.

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