An injured turtle is literally being pieced back together with wires, steel pins, epoxy glue and a bracket at a Manitoba wildlife shelter, after its shell was badly cracked this week.
The western painted turtle was brought to the Wildlife Haven Rehabilitation Centre on Monday after it was found on the side of Highway 8 in Petersfield, Man. Staff believe the shell was cracked after the turtle was struck by a car.
"In this case, it seemed everything else was intact. It was simply the shell that needed to be kind of put back together and held in place," Don Diawol, the centre's rehab director, told CBC News on Wednesday.
Diawol said he put the shell pieces back together, much like puzzle pieces, and secured them using a common technique called Turtle Shell Repair.
"We had to epoxy cement little pins onto the shell at strategic points to pull it all together," he explained.
"We decided to just use a light wire to just kind of tie it all together so it holds it stable and together."
A larger crack down the back of the shell is held together with a metal bracket and glue, he added.
Turtle shell a 'growing organ'
The turtle has been given medication for pain, but Diawol said the animal will ultimately be OK because the shell is tough and thick.
"The shell itself is a growing organ, so it will grow itself back together and heal," he said.
It could take six months to a year before the turtle can be released back into the wild.
Western painted turtles are common in Manitoba, said Diawol, who estimates that he does about three or four shell repairs a year at the wildlife centre near Ile des Chênes, Man.
He said the latest job was a bit more extensive than most. It took him about an hour to put the shell back together.
"When we look at a situation like this, where the animal would have otherwise perished because of the injuries, we're able to try some interesting techniques and have its chances of survival that much better," he said.