PEOPLE WANT TO KNOW ABOUT ANIMALS

by Whit Gibbons

July 22, 2002


The following questions about animals have been received in the last month.

Q. I have a brown skink exploring between my basement and the first floor of my house. My little two-year-old almost had a panic attack this morning as she came running to me about a "MONSTER!" (This was before I encountered the little skink in the basement just a moment ago.) How can I safely remove this little critter from my house. I have been holding my little girl on my hip all day long, because she is so afraid of this skink. --Diana

A. The easiest way to remove a brown skink is to catch it by hand (the tail will probably break off) and put it outside. It might try to bite, but they are so small it does not hurt when they do. As far as the child goes, I would start showing her pictures of lizards and snakes in a book, explaining that they are just a natural part of the world and have no intention of hurting anyone. Go outside and look at insects, spiders, birds, and other wild things with her. Sometimes children develop fears of certain animals because it has not been reinforced to them that most animals mean us no harm. Good luck.

Q. I am a 19-year-old college student who is a reptile lover, and I am looking for a part-time job working with animals. I have tried several veterinary clinics in my area, but nobody seems to be hiring right now. Any ideas? --Meghan, Ft. Myers, Florida

A. You might want to check with local pet stores and some of the many herpetocultural societies that are in Florida--go to www.parcplace.org and check the links to Florida organizations as well as the job openings for people who work with reptiles. Also, have you checked with the biology department at your school? Sometimes faculty members will know of temporary job openings that might be what you are looking for. Even something on a volunteer basis would at least get you involved with people who make a living working with animals, and it might lead to a paid position.

Q. I recently found an eastern box turtle that had apparently been hit by a car on the road. It sustained superficial and minor injuries to its carapace and plastron as well as to the tail, which has since healed. Recently I noted that the plastron and carapace are not securely joined. I plan to let this box turtle go, but I want to make sure it is healthy before I do. Do you know of someone in the area who is knowledgeable in the treatment of box turtles? -- Mary

A. We have found that the best approach for turtles with cracked shells is to use a "super glue" to attach any broken parts. (A similar glue has actually been used on humans to suture wounds.) Be careful with the amount and placement of the glue as you do not want to end up stuck to a turtle or have a turtle glued to a table. Release the turtle in the closest wooded area to where you found it; it should be able to heal on its own. I suggest you cover the turtle with leaves or pine straw so that it is concealed from predators, as it may choose to remain dormant for several days. Although premature death is a possibility with any wild animal, most turtles heal over time and may live many years afterward.

Q. We live on the Big Manistee River. Could we have watched a Blanding's turtle laying eggs Friday night? Is there a land turtle in this area? --Bill, Manistee, Michigan

A. Blanding's turtles are one of the few U.S. turtles not found in the Southeast, occurring in much of the Midwest, including your area. They lay eggs in June and July, so that is probably what you saw. As far as land turtles go, the box turtle barely makes it to that part of Michigan but could be in some areas. All North American turtles lay their eggs on land and so are terrestrial at that time.




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