See the wonderful and heart-warming stories of some of the animals we've been able to help.
You'll notice that most of the turtles we take in have names. Many believe that in order to keep a wild animal wild, it's important not to form bonds with the ones you rescue. We agree wholeheartedly. We do not give them names to anthropomorphizethem, but rather simply to identify them. Some rescuers/rehabbers use number/letter systems. We find that names are just easier to remember. Most turtles are "named" something that indicates where they came from, who found them, or what type injury they have, which makes it easier for us to keep track of who's who and what they need.
All of the photos posted on this page are the sole property of the Central MS Turtle Rescue. If you would like to use one of our photos, we'd love to share it with you. Just, please, be polite and ask first.
Warning - some of the images below may be considered graphic, and may not be suitable for all visitors.
These are just a few of the turtles and tortoises we've helped through the years. Want to see more? Check out our Facebookpage!
Faith December 2017 On New Year's Eve, we received a call from a concerned mom whose daughter had noticed a turtle that had been stuck in some mud for several hours. The turtle, who we named Faith, was found in a field behind an apartment complex, smashed into the mud. She'd also been painted pink. Because there were no roads nearby, no tire tracks around where she was found, and because she had been pushed so far into the mud that she could not move, we determined that someone likely stomped on her and left her there to die. To complicate things, the temperatures outside were barely above freezing. We got Faith home and step one was to warm her up. We inspected her breaks and also found that where the carapace came down over her head, it was milometers from crushing her skull. We got radiographs to confirm that there was no spinal damage and no immediately discernible organ trauma, and then we got to work setting her shell back into place. Faith is doing great! Her shell is healing and there were no other complications from her ordeal. We hope to release her in summer 2018.
Fluffy August 2017 The Alligator Snapper is being considered for inclusion on the endangered/threatened species list, so there is a study currently being done in Mississippi to trap and track our Alligator Snapping Turtle populations. The researchers set out humane traps for these large turtles and then get blood and tissue samples, weight and length measurements, etc. In one of these traps they found Fluffy, a young male snapper who had at some point been pierced with a trot line hook. Many fishermen who find turtles on their lines will simply cut the line away, but leave the hook in the turtle's mouth. This can be dangerous to the turtle for many reasons - the hook can migrate down the esophagus causing tears and the injury by the hook can cause swelling and pain, resulting in a turtle that can't eat. Fluffy was brought to us, where our vet sedated him and removed the large hook from his mouth. A few weeks later, he was released in the exact area where he had been trapped. A video of his release can be seen on our Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/luke.pearson.501/videos/1690304217708789/
Brooke July 2017 We usually deal with native turtles, but with all the difference species of turtle and tortoise in the pet trade, we sometimes also get sick and injured exotic turtles and tortoises as well. Such is the case with Brooke. Brooke is a Sulcata Tortoise (also called the Spurred Tortoise). Sulcatas are native to Africa and are the third largest tortoise in the world. They are experts at escape, either by digging out of their enclosures or simply knocking down their fences. And, sadly, many people who buy this species as pets have no idea how large they will one day get, and many of them simply turn them loose when they become too much to handle. We'll likely never know which scenario found Brooke in the middle of the road that day, but it ended with her being hit by a car. The damage was major, but Brooke is a fighter. She's still with us, and likely will be for several years. She still has trouble using her back legs, and while that's not too much of a problem today, it very well might be in a few years when she weighs upwards of 70-100 pounds. So, she'll be with us until we can determine how her future weight will affect her mobility. She will eventually be placed for adoption.
Echo July 2017 Echo's story isn't so much a story of success, but rather a story that is testament to the power of Facebook.
Echo came to us on July 2, 2017, after having an unfortunate run-in with a weed-eater. The people who found Echo didn't know we exist, and couldn't find anyone else to help him. They did the best they could for several days, before finally finding our rescue. By the time Echo got to us, his wounds were badly infected, flies had laid eggs all over his frail body, and he was on death's door. By the next morning, he was gone. This led me to post on Facebook about his story, begging people to share our page so that no other turtle would have to wait for treatment like Echo did. Little did I know how this one post would change our lives. Within two days, we had 5,000 new Facebook followers, the post had been shared 11, 454 times, and it had been seen by 898,458 people!! Life after that got a little crazy. We had more calls and more injured turtles to help than we'd ever had before. But we made some of the best connections, the most endearing friends, and we were able to help almost 140 turtles that year. Never underestimate the power of Facebook and the love of humankind for animals.
Shelby and the Babies May 2017 Shelby is a large River Cooter who was struck by a car near Lucedale in May 2017. After being brought to us for treatment, it was discovered that she had several eggs that were ready to be laid. A few days later, Shelby gave us 7 eggs. We placed the eggs in an incubator and at the end of August/beginning of September, 6 of the 7 hatched. All the hatchlings were healthy, except for one (Cosmo) who was born without eyes. Mother and babies are still all doing well, and with the exception of Cosmo who is available for adoption, will be released in Spring 2018.
Rough April 2017 This beat-up looking fella was found by one of our MDWFP conservation biologists in a neighborhood in south Jackson. He's led a very long, and very ROUGH life, and he wears the scars of a dozen or more old, healed injuries. This time, Rough found his way under the wheel of a car, which nearly severed his left rear foot. By the time he was found, the injury had already happened a few days prior. Flies had laid eggs in the wounds, several of the bones in the foot were broken, and infection had killed some of the tissue. Our vet debrided the necrotic tissue, set the bones as well as possible, and sutured the skin over the wound. It will take some time to heal, but he's obviously lived through a lot already in his lifetime. He should do just fine back in his old neighborhood once this latest injury is just another battle scar. UPDATE 6/12/17: Rough was released right back where he came from. He is healthy and free once more!
Oy April 2017 This little guy was almost a tasty snack for a bird. Oy was found in Florence by a concerned homeowner who noticed the little thing was bleeding and having trouble walking. He had a very deep puncture in his plastron (bottom shell) which was likely the result of a bird picking at him. He also sustained some leg and neck trauma. He's a very young box turtle - likely hatched last fall and over-wintered in his next. But, he's a fighter! He's been in treatment a month, and is healing very nicely.
Frank February 2017 Frank was found wandering the city streets near the Square in Oxford, MS last October. A concerned passerby noticed him, and quickly realized he'd been struck by a car. Thus began her long and frustrating odyssey to try and find someone - anyone - who would give Frank medical care. She happened upon Paws Animal Hospital in Oxford. Even though their veterinarian was a dog-and-cat vet, she agreed to help Frank. She did an amazing job stabilizing Frank's broken shell, and Frank went home with his rescuer. His rescuer never stopped looking for a rehabber, and in February, she found us. Frank's stabilizing hardware has now been removed, his wounds have healed, and he'll be ready to release very soon. UPDATE 6/25/17: Frank was released!
Wild at Heart Winter Refugees October 2016 We enjoy an amazing relationship with Wild at Heart Rescue on the MS Gulf Coast (Vancleave, MS). They have truly been a blessing to us this year, and have helped with several rescues we've had. So, when they asked if we could care for a few of their turtles over the winter, we were happy to help them in any way we could. We took in 12 turtles total. Sadly, one of the turtles didn't make it through winter; however, the other 11 turtles were taken back on April 15, 2017. After vet checkups, several of those 11, plus 6 other turtles in Wild at Heart's care, were released back to the wild that day. If you'd like to see some of the miracles Wild at Heart performs for turtles, and all other wildlife, please give them a look. www.facebook.com/WildatHeartRescue/?fref=ts
Primo September 2016 Fall 2016 has really been more of an extended summer. With temperatures still hovering in the 80s and 90s, turtles are still actively roaming about. This poor guy found himself in the middle of a major highway in the Jackson area (Lakeland Drive). He was hit - twice - but miraculously survived. Two guardian angels saw him get hit, and rushed in to save him. He wound up having to have an arm amputated, but he made a full recovery and was released in summer of 2017.
Chewy August 2016 Chewy is a juvenile three-toed box turtle that had the misfortune of becoming a chew toy for a dog. Thankfully, the dog's behavior was noticed before too much damage was done. He'll need quite a lot more healing, and will forever be missing pieces of his shell, but he will survive and lead a normal life. As of this writing (October 2016), he's eating and functioning completely normal. Update: ADOPTED, May 2017!
Tred July 2016 We try not to have favorites, but if we had one, it may just very well be this guy...Tred. This is mostly because he's so HUGE and challenging to work with, but also because we don't have the opportunity to work with this species very often. Tred is a 60-pound alligator snapping turtle. Unlike common snapping turtles, alligators snappers rarely leave their bodies of water. So to see one - especially a male, and especially one that's been injured - is very rare. Tred's story begins on July 10th when a passing motorist spotted him in the roadway. Tred was a long way from an alligator snapper's natural habitat when he was found that day. This kind motorist knew she had to do something, so she somehow managed to put Tred in her car, by herself, and drive him to the Emergency Animal Clinic in Flowood. The clinic called us the following day. Based on where he was found and the types of injuries he sustained, we suspect someone caught Tred, probably threw him in the back of their pickup truck, and proceeded to drive off with him. It's hard to keep a 60-pound snapping turtle anywhere that a 60-pound snapping turtle doesn't want to be, so Tred jumped for it, landing on the asphalt and causing the road rash and breaks to his shell.
Tred's care has been a team effort. For a turtle his size (and with his bite strength), we decided to seek the help of a different veterinarian than we usually use - one with more experience with this species and better resources to treat him. So, together with our friends at Wild at Heart Rescue in Vancleave, MS, he was seen and treated by Dr. James Askew. Dr. Askew placed two titanium plates to realign Tred's broken carapace, and then we brought him back with us for rehab. Update, October 2016. Tred is doing amazingly well. He's moved out to a big tank now, where he'll spend the winter with us. He's eating and swimming normally, and should be ready for release in spring!
Omelet June 2016 Just after picking up Scrambled and Over Easy (see below), we got a phone call about this turtle. We already had an egg theme going for the day, so we decided to call this sweet one Omelet. Omelet had been hit by a car near Purvis, MS, and a fan of our Facebook page who witnessed it reached out to us for help. We drove to meet her halfway, and took Omelet in for treatment and rehab. He healed very well and was released in August 2017.
Over Easy June 2016 On our way to the vet's office to pick up Scrambled (see below), we passed this guy on the side of the interstate. He was upside down, but as we passed, I swore I saw movement. So, we turned around at the next exit and went back for him. It was 90+ degrees that day, and he was in full sun. We had no idea how long he'd been there, cooking on that hot asphalt. He had some minor road rash and a slight break on his shell, likely from being clipped by a passing car. We gave him copious amounts of fluid, cleaned his abrasions, and watched him for several days. When we were satisfied that there was no permanent damage, we released him to a safer area, but still within his native watershed.
Scrambled June 2016 Scrambled is a juvenile common snapping turtle that was struck by a car, then picked up by a kind motorist and taken to our vet's office. After the vet did a little work to mend his broken jaw, we took Scrambled in for rehab. Unfortunately, the repairs to his jaw didn't take, and eventually it fell apart. However, since he's a snapping turtle, he can easily overcome this slight disability. He remained with us until August 2017 and was released.
Grace May 2016 Grace is a hatchling three-toed box turtle that was discovered in a swimming pool. The pool's owners had been out of town, and when they returned home to clean out their pool for summer use, there was this tiny little box turtle, struggling to get out. We took her in and kept her for a few weeks to make sure she hadn't aspirated any water, and had suffered no damage from the chlorine. She was released on June 25th in a safe location, away from the swimming pool, in the area where she was found.
Sandy May 2016 Sandy was hit by a car in Sand Hill, MS. This happened at the most opportune time for our little rescue, as our vet had just left for a two week vacation out of state. Her injuries were severe, and we were having trouble getting her bleeding to stop. Wild at Heart Rescue in Vancleave agreed to take her in, so we sent her down to them. She completed her rehab with us and was released in August 2017.
Tashi May 2016 Tashi is a very large River Cooter that was hit by a car on Florence-Byram Road. Our neighbor spotted her in the road and brought her straight to us. She had a few abrasions on her plastron, but the real damage was to her carapace. We believe the car tried to straddle her, but still clipped her on the highest part of her shell. She's doing well and healing up just fine with treatment. We hope to be able to release her before fall this year. Around the beginning of August, Tashi laid 2 eggs in her tank. The eggs turned out to be infertile. On August 8th, we found SEVENTEEN more eggs in her tank (pic below). A day later, 2 more eggs. We have no idea if the recent 19 eggs are fertile, but we're incubating them anyway! UPDATE OCTOBER 2016: None of Tashi's eggs were fertile, unfortunately. However, Tashi got her big release and is now living free once more!
Ron May 2016 On a business trip to Biloxi, we received an email from a gentleman that happened to live in Biloxi. He had found this sickly Gulf Coast Box Turtle next to the storm drain in his yard. After looking after it for a few days, he realized he was sick and reached out to us. Since I was already in Biloxi, I got the turtle from him and then contacted Wild at Heart Rescue in Vancleave. The next day, I handed Ron off to them. We suspect Ron had some toxin poisoning thanks to whomever had decided to paint all over his shell. Please don't paint turtles. Their shells are living tissue and can absorb toxins. Once the paint is removed and Ron is well again, Wild at Heart will return him to his home range.
Johnson April 2016 On a personal camping trip in April 2016 to Paul B. Johnson State Park, a friend of ours spotted this handsome fella with a fish hook partially protruding from his mouth. Our friend tried to remove the hook, but it had been in there so long that it had rusted, so when he tried to pull it out, the hook broke. The remaining piece of metal went up through the soft palate of his mouth and was putting pressure on his eye from behind. We took the turtle back home with us, and then to our vet, who sedated him and was able to get the rest of the hook out. After a few days of monitoring, and some antibiotics, we took Johnson back down to the lake where he was found, and released him.
Racer April 2016 Racer is a southern black racer snake that Luke found in the yard one day. He was in bad need of shedding, but also had sustained some type of head trauma. He was completely lethargic when found, and could not raise his head on his own. After a few weeks of monitoring, and a good shed, he was released back on our property.
Maurice March 2016 Maurice is a very large, mature Common Snapping Turtle from Philadelphia, MS. He was hit by a car, but the incident was thankfully noticed by a kind-hearted passerby who scooped him up and contacted us. He suffered a fractured jaw, fractured skull, and fractured sinus. He also got a nasty gash on the shell, which miraculously missed his spine. His wounds should heal, but it will be a while before he can be submerged in water (which should make eating and drinking interesting.) We'll continue to treat his wounds, give him a round of antibiotics, and finish removing all the nasty leeches he has on him. Maurice recovered nicely and was released in April 2017.
Crunch December 2015 Crunch was found by a Crossgates resident, as he was trying to make his way out of the lake. Noticing that he was missing a leg, they called us. The leg problem is an old injury that he's obviously already adapted to; however, he did have a few spots of fungus on his skin - likely caused by the putrid water he had been left with in that drained lake. Also, since this was at the beginning of our "colder" weather, we decided to keep him over winter and release him in spring. By April 2016, his fungus was gone, and he was released downstream of Crossgates Lake on 4/24/16.
Orange November 2015 Orange is another casualty of the Crossgates Lake problem. This large female slider was fleeing the lake and decided to cross the road. She was struck by a car, which put a large gash in her carapace. The breaking of the shell forced the shell downward into her body cavity, which ripped the membrane that protects her organs. After a tense procedure at the vet's office, her shell was put back into place, the membrane sewn up, and she completed rehabilitation with us. She was released in April 2017.
The Draining of Crossgates Lake in Brandon 2015-2017 The lake is a 30-acre man-made reservoir that was initially dug too shallow, which caused the lake to turn over each summer. The city and property owner drained the lake, dug it deeper, and refilled it. The problem is that there were no other lakes in the area, so all the turtles in the lake had nowhere to go. We spent countless days at the remnants of this lake beginning in August 2015, trying to locate and rescue the remaining turtles. Their food source was gone, and their water was putrid and diseased. Over 300 turtles, 9 ducks, and 1 snake were removed from the lake. In 2017, the work was completed and the lake was allowed to refill.
Interstate Box Turtle July 2015 We saw this little box turtle on the on-ramp to the interstate. After a terrifying stop, and a significant loss of tire tread, we were able to get to her before another car did.
Russian Tortoise (Lucy, aka Norman) May 2015 This little Russian Tortoise was surrendered to us by a family who could no longer care for him. Russian Tortoises (as the name implies) are not native here. They are, however, one of the most common pet tortoises sold in pet stores. Many of these tortoises end up in rescues - most of them victims of the pet trade. This guy had a happy ending when a friend of ours adopted him. He's now living the sweet life with several other Russian Tortoises. Originally thought to be female, we called "her" Lucy. Turns out, she's a he, and his name is now Norman.
Oahu April 2015 Oahu is a female slider that was shot twice at close range by a .22 caliber gun. She was shot while trying to cross a road, and was left to die on that street in a pool of her own blood. Oahu is healing nicely, the bullets having missed her vital organs by mere millimeters. Thankfully, her attackers had bad aim. After a year of treatment and healing, Oahu was returned to the area where she was found (though in a much safer lake) in April 2016.
Pearl Pirate Box Turtle April 2015 This little guy was found wandering Pirate Cove in Pearl in April 2015. A concerned passerby rescued him and then contacted us for help. We kept him for a couple of days, just to make sure he wasn't sick or injured. After determining that he was just fine, we returned to the area of Pearl High School where he was found. Just off the roadway was a nice forested area, where we released him.
Baby Box Turtles 2013 - 2014 In late summer 2013, we came across a female box turtle that had been hit by a car. Her damage was so severe that she did not survive the impact. However, we always check dead females to see if they have eggs. This one did. As gruesome as it is, we opened the deceased mom up, and retrieved her eggs. About 2 months later, these guys hatched. We held onto them over winter, and released them in Spring 2014.
Nate May2014 This was our very own "celebrity" save. A local radio personality, who we had met through our full-time jobs, called us one afternoon to say he'd found a baby turtle in his garage. Even after looking at aerial maps, we couldn't figure out where this little one might have come from. We always prefer to release a turtle back to the area from which it came. In this case, however, we decided he must have been a hawk-drop. (Birds of prey will scoop up baby turtles, then drop them to crack them open. Sort of a bird's answer to a lobster hammer.) In this case, perhaps the hawk missed his target and deposited this guy onto something soft, like grass, rather than concrete. At any rate, he survived the encounter and managed to find his way to someone who knew just who to call. We took the little guy to a friend's pond and released him - after some unappreciated photos.
Harper April 2014 One afternoon after work, we were headed to the Walmart in Richland (off Harper Rd.). At the red light, Luke noticed a turtle upside down. I assumed he was dead. Luke wasn't convinced. He drove up to the door of Walmart and practically tossed me out of the car, then went tire-squealing right back to the red light to check the turtle out. Low and behold, he was alive! As you can see, he was pretty damaged, but thankfully it was only shell damage, and no internal organs were affected. After two years of healing (we had some stubborn shell pieces that didn't want to fuse), Harper was finally released on April 24, 2016. He was placed back into the same water system, but further away from roads and cars.
Hunk October 2013 Hunk was found in a friend's yard. She noticed he had some injuries, so she called us. We'll never know what caused his injuries, but we assume he was hit by a lawnmower. Most of it looked already-healed, but there were a couple of spots we were concerned about, so we held onto him through the winter to observe him. In Spring, when the old injuries looked healed enough, and he showed no signs that his scars would hinder him, we released him right back in my friend's yard to finish living his life.
Big Ugly 2012-2013 As Luke was driving down Airport Road in Pearl one day, he noticed this large snapper step out, trying to cross the road. Luke pulled to a stop, and started making his way over to the turtle. There was a small SUV coming the other way. The driver was on the phone. She never seemed to notice either Luke nor the turtle, and she ran right over him. Snappers tend to walk with their legs straightened out more than other turtles, making them a bit "taller". Because of this, the undercarriage of the car clipped his back, injuring both the shell and the spine. After the threat of infection passed, the vet was able to patch his shell; however, he continued to have trouble walking on land. After several months of working with him, we finally felt comfortable releasing him, and set him about his way.
Fang 2012 One of my employees had a very sweet Boxer dog. She got home from work one day and found him chewing on something. When she investigated, she found the "something" was a turtle. I've lost pictures of the initial injury, but you can clearly see from these photos where the deepest puncture wound was. The most severe puncture penetrated all the way to the lung. After intensive rehab and some shell repair, we were able to release Fang back to the wild. And no, we don't blame the dog. Dogs like to chew. Most of them are raised chewing on bones or rawhide. A turtle's shell is bone covered by keratin, so it tastes and feels like something the dog is allowed to chew. The dog wasn't trying to hurt him. Unfortunately, we see this a lot. If you have turtles, please keep them separate and protected from your dogs. Accidents happen.
Weebles and Wobbles July 2011 Within just a couple of days of each other, we came across two separate mothers that had been hit and killed by cars. We always check deceased females for eggs, and both of these DOR (dead on road) females had eggs. Luke did a postmortem surgery to remove the eggs, and we incubated them. One turtle from each momma hatched. Wobbles' mom actually only had one salvagable egg in her. The rest were destroyed by the car. We're not sure how long she had laid on the roadway in the heat, but we think that's why Wobbles is just a little deformed. Weebles came out with the biggest yolk sac I'd ever seen. We had to take special care to make sure it didn't rupture before it was absorbed. Weebles went to live with a friend, and we still have Wobbles (who is available for adoption).
Mazzio Spring 2010 We received a call from a lady one day about a very sick turtle she had found in the parking lot of Mazzio's Pizza in Richland. We met with her and took in this tiny little sickly creature that we honestly didn't have much hope for. She was badly sick but we couldn't tell exactly why. Her eyes were our biggest concern. They were watery, swollen, red, and appeared to be sightless. We'd had an unexpected cold snap that spring, so it's possible this little one got caught out in the cold without shelter, causing a condition known as cold-stunning. This happens more frequently in the northern US, but can theoretically happen anywhere. With cold-stunned turtles, the first organ to suffer is usually the eyes. We spent 2 months force-feeding this little turtle - even going so far as to dry-dock her all day and then we'd place her in a watery soup of liquid vitamins and food, hoping she'd ingest nutrients while drinking. Finally, after two months, she ate on her own. She never did regain her eyesight, though. Now, other than having to be fed in a special container to more easily access her food, she gets around just fine. And now, she's huge - easily pushing 8" SCL.
Mooter June 2010 In June 2010, we stopped by a local family-owned pet store. They were trying to sell this guy as a wood turtle, and wanted $90 for him. They were keeping him in the bearded dragon enclosure, with only a small water dish. First, this is not a wood turtle - it's a Peninsula Cooter (Pseudemys peninsularis), These turtles are deep water swimmers. A tiny bearded dragon water dish is not sufficient water volume for any turtle, much less a cooter. And finally, bearded dragons need very warm temperatures (up to 110-degree basking spots). These temperatures can be deadly to a turtle. After speaking with the employee of the pet store, and telling him that I was a rehabber, he agreed to let me have (for free no less!) this "wood turtle". Poor Mooter was really a mess at first. I'm not sure how long he sat in that tiny dish of dirty water - his only source of water - but, it caused severe shell rot. His carapace (top shell) was burned by the hot lamps. Fungus had eaten away several of his nails. It took a very long time to get him healthy. Night after night of digging out shell rot and cleaning with betadyne. Months of living in medicated water in a tiny tank. He did finally recover, and is one of the sweetest turtles I've ever known. Not once has he ever tried to bite me, not even when I would have to dig into the bone of his shell to debride the bacteria. He's not native to Mississippi, so he stayed with us and is now a pet that we love very much.
Strawberry May 2010 In Madison, there is a park called Strawberry Park. It has a small pond where adults and children love to fish and feed the ducks. It is also home to several turtles. We got a call from a friend one night who said she'd seen a turtle bobbing up and down, and seemed to be stuck on something. So, we took the 45 minute drive north to Madison to see what was going on. This turtle was hooked on a fish-hook, attached to a line that was attached to a pole that was tangled in something in the water. She was drowning. So, Luke jumped in. We got the hook out of her mouth and then watched her a couple of days before releasing her in a new pond where nobody fishes.
Maddy October 2009 In October 2010, I was invited to Madison Station Elementary School to talk with the students about turtles. While there, I was approached by a teacher who begged me to take this little one home. He belonged to her daughter, but she really did not want the responsibility of caring for a turtle. So, Maddy, the River Cooter, came home with me.