When you are in Florida, you should just expect to see weird things. One day you might see a dude running through the streets naked on drugs and the next you could see a painted red tortoise on the road.
Sadly, the latter happened recently in Osceola County, Florida. The couple who was on the side of the road got in contact
It was Kim Titterington who founded Swamp Girl Adventures, which is an organization that rescues and helps wild animals get back into the wild. She is also a partner at the Central Florida Wildlife Center. Basically the first person you want on the scene was on call!
She told The Dodo:
“The woman said, ‘I didn’t realize we had red turtles like that.’ Then they got closer and realized the animal’s situation.”
No Florida doesn’t have red turtles, it was just a gopher tortoise that was in a bad condition. The poor animal was covered in paint as well as bits of concrete.
This is what Titterington said when she saw the tortoise:
“My first reaction was disgust, because I hate to see any animal in a bad situation, and I was definitely very concerned because we don’t know what kind of paint it was, and we didn’t know how long it had been on there.”
It’s possible that the concrete happened incidentally, but the paint definitely was on purpose in Titterington’s mind.
“Unless we actually speak to the person who did it and find out more details, we don’t know exact facts. But what we do know is that the concrete ended up on him first … and from there, it looks like he was spray-painted. Basically 95 percent of his body was covered in paint.”
Even though they were working to get the paint off, they noticed the turtle was moving around almost as if he was drunk. It seemed as though he had gotten the paint toxins into his body sadly.
They used a combo of Dawn dish soap and a mild vinegar solution to work to get the paint of off Raphael, which is what they eventually named him. They also made sure to get fluids to hydrate Raphael and get those dang toxins out of this system.
Titterington went onto say:
“We noticed a great improvement in his ability to walk and function in about 24 hours. He was walking in a straight line and he was much more responsive.”
Gopher tortoises are very important to the Florida ecosystem because of the burrows they make. These burrows are vital because they also home 360 other types of animals. So this savior was vital to the surrounding Florida area!
Titterington and her team are keeping Raphael just for a little bit longer to make sure he’s ready to go back to the wild. She concluded:
“He’s a very hyper, very driven tortoise. He kind of has this, ‘I’m going to do what I want to do’ attitude, which is very good. He wants to be wild.”
Hopefully soon he will be back in the swamps of Florida!