'Traumatised' turtle on the mend

DUBBY HENRY
Last updated 09:49 27/12/2012
Lilly the turtle
DUBBY HENRY / Fairfax NZ
Lilly the turtle is slowly regaining her health thanks to the help of Claris Ford, who runs Turtle Haven in Papakura.

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Lilly the turtle is slowly coming out of her shell.

The traumatised reptile has been making a slow recovery after being thrown from a moving car near Wellsford, north of Auckland, three months ago.

Her shell was cracked and infection had set in when Papakura's Turtle Lady stepped in to help.

Clarice Ford runs the Turtle Haven Charitable Trust from her backyard, rescuing reptiles that have been abused, abandoned or just need a little love.

She has nursed Lilly back to health, force-feeding her with a syringe and giving her antibiotics.

Lilly, a red-eared slider, is "the sweetest turtle", Ford said.

"She doesn't bite even though I give her needles every second day. She never hisses or anything - her personality's just so placid."

Lilly is looking much better thanks to a shell operation, but the trauma of being thrown out of a car has taken an emotional toll. She suffers from extreme shyness in social settings.

The only one who can draw her out of her shell is a young red-eared turtle called Sprout who came to Turtle Haven after being attacked by a dog.

The tiny companion is "like a little nurse", Ford said.

He brings out Lilly's inquisitive nature and she follows him wherever he goes.

"He gets her out of the water; it's really good. She likes his company."

Lilly's shell was held together with wire, putty and tape but as it began to heal the wire became a hindrance.

April Jones at the Ardmore Vet Practice offered to do an operation for free because Ford was a frequent client.

The crack started knitting together but was still vulnerable. Jones sanded the edges and put clear fibreglass along it to give water protection and in case Lilly takes another knock.

It was the first time the vet had worked with fibreglass but she said Ford's extensive knowledge of turtles made it easy.

"It was a very rewarding thing to do," Jones said. "Lilly was as good as gold. People think of turtles as inanimate rocks with legs on but they do have character."

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