Houston SPCA releases threatened alligator snapping turtles

Courtesy of Houston SPCA

- A threatened alligator snapping turtle rescued from a drain pipe in November was released back into the wild on Tuesday. Another alligator snapping turtle, who had been stabbed in the head, was also released.

After weeks of rehabilitation by the Houston SPCA's Wildlife Center of Texas, the turtles were tagged for identification purposes and released to a suitable location.

A Fairfield resident exploring a new development near Hockley in November, discovered a large turtle wedged into the end of a pipe sitting in a waterway, and he called in Houston SPCA to help.

When the team from Houston SPCA’s Wildlife Center of Texas arrived, they found a threatened alligator snapping turtle struggling to keep his head up as water rushed over his body. The pipe was dented at the opening, preventing the turtle from passing through.

Houston SPCA called in the Rosehill Fire Department to bring in the necessary equipment to free the turtle. The pipe was so thick the Jaws of Life could not cut through it, but the fire department used a spreader to widen the pipe while Houston SPCA veterinarian Dr. Hoggard freed the turtle. Rescuers found several other deceased alligator snapping turtles that had previously become stuck in the pipe.

The 53-pound rescued turtle was transported on Houston SPCA’s 24-hour injured animal rescue ambulance to the Wildlife Center of Texas for evaluation and treatment.

According to the SPCA, alligator snapping turtles, known for their dinosaur-like characteristics, are native to Houston and are one of the few protected freshwater turtles in Texas. The last one the Houston SPCA’s wildlife center rescued in 2013 was the first snapping alligator turtle recorded in Harris County in four decades.

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