When I told my husband about my desire to rehabilitate turtles, he looked around our already crowded house and asked, “Where are you going to put them?” It was a legitimate question, and one that I had been asking myself. Then I looked out the window and remembered the bus.
Why is there a bus in my yard?
The bus was parked in my side yard by my then just barely twenty-year-old daughter. She had purchased the stripped-out retired school bus and drove it 600 miles to home with the intention of creating a tiny home on wheels for herself. Life happened, and the bus stayed parked in my side yard with some of the wall framing complete and a pile of materials in our garage. Since everything was on hand, and with my daughter’s permission, my husband and I completed the interior walls, laid some sheet vinyl flooring, and ran a heavy-duty extension cord to power it up. And the turtle bus came to be.
The first critters in the bus were orphaned squirrels who have since been released into the woods behind my house where I still catch sight of them on occasion. (The food I leave for them disappears daily.) Now, the turtle bus is almost fully occupied by turtles.
Injured turtles need care.
Most of the turtles in my care had been hit by cars, have had their shells mended, and are in the long, slow process of healing. One Eastern Painted Turtle was “retrieved” by a dog whose teeth notched the back edge of his shell. Those small wounds healed over quickly, and he will be returning to his wild home soon. A recent addition has an abscess on his neck that needs to be removed. Two painted turtle hatchlings found their way after “landscaping incidents” – one was the victim of a leaf blower, the other found in a roll of sod. Their growth is being monitored and they will be released once they are a bit more predator-proof.
All wildlife rehabilitators have the same struggle – we have more love than money. While we are licensed and monitored by our state wildlife agencies, we get no funding, supplies, or equipment from them. We are all volunteers and most, like me, are home based. I am blessed to be part of an organized local network, North Country Wild Care, which fundraises as a group to purchase and supply things like formula and food for the many orphans our members raise, from birds to opossums to deer.
Turtles, while relatively easy to feed, have specialized housing requirements. Glass tanks have been easy to come by, as many folks I know have had a fish tank at one time, but each needs a filter system to keep the water clean and moving, a heat lamp for a warm basking spot, and a full spectrum UV light to replace the sunlight they are missing. These are all essential for any turtle’s health, but especially for turtles who have lost blood, are fighting infection, and trying to grow new tissue. Even with the most inexpensive options, each complete tank setup costs around $100. I have already used my full budget for equipment and then some, and simply cannot expand any further this year without help.
Please help me help the turtles.
Can you help me help the turtles? There are two easy ways you can help. I have a wishlist on Amazon for Dancing Turtle Wildlife Rehabilitation. You can purchase any item on the list, and have it sent to me as a gift. (You will get double karma points if you use Amazon Smile and select North Country Wild Care as the beneficiary.) If you like the My Shamanic Life podcast, please consider becoming a sponsor through Patreon. I have always considered my podcast a way to share yoga and Shamanic Reiki with the world (while sneaking in some wildlife conservation advocacy) and never intended to monetize it, so any funds received will go directly to the turtles. Patreon sponsors will have access to exclusive content from inside the turtle bus so you can follow your favorite turtle’s recovery.
I am immensely grateful for everyone who has helped me get this far. Locally, I have received donations of tanks, gently used sheets and towels, heating pads, and even bags of homegrown lettuce for turtles to munch on. Thank you!