Need Advice!

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RTfanatic

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College Station, TX
I had a long drive today in which I rescued a three toed eastern box turtle (plus moved another off the road and checked on several other turtles already dead on the road). I normally do not take a turtle, just move them across the road they are trying to cross. But this one was crossing a busy road in Palestine, Texas around 11:30am in front of a church that was probably due to let out shortly. And when I say IN town I mean 8-10 blocks from downtown. Mostly light commercial and residential around this church, and though there were a few vacant lots down the street they were small with sparse vegetation. So not great habitat anywhere around.

This turtle was not afraid of me and though it had pulled it's feet in scared of the traffic it came out of it's shell as soon as I picked it up. I was struck by how it showed no fear, but I was also struck by how scarred it's shell was, along with signs of inconsistent growth. And then two people yelled out their window to ask if they could have it to take home as a pet for their kid. I told them no that it wouldn't survive in captivity to scare them off, and sure enough they drove off a short way grumbling at me. They watched me as I went to my car and drove off long enough to see I didn't stop and set the turtle out as I'm sure they were hoping to come get it to take home.

Anyway, while they were stalking me I took a closer look at the shell and at this point I estimate that the box turtle likely had been held as a pet for three years and either escaped or was let go a couple of years ago because there were three wide consistently smooth growth rings followed by really thin messy rings. During the last year or so I'm guessing it was attacked by one or more dogs, as there are many bad scars (healed) and terribly ragged edges around the marginal scutes, including at least one obvious canine tooth scar. Anyway, all this being said I decided I better find out more information before deciding where to let it go, much less whether I should let it go.

He's obviously pretty tough given the healed scars, but it made me nervous that it was not afraid of me given it had odd signs of growth and I found it scarred and near the heart of a 20,000 population town. I live in a ecologically sensitive community where the average lot is a couple of acres, and the 10-12 ones around us are all 4+ acres in size. We have at least one three toed eastern box in the woods behind our house and it's good habitat for them so I could easily let it out here, but it worried me that it was so unafraid...

I have 5 RT's, but plenty of room, so I could house him separately, but I'm cautious about taking on another species and would rather just let him go out back and maybe help grow the local box community, but I don't want to rush in prematurely as I know we have racoons, opossums and skunks in the woods.

Anyway, I need advice what the right thing to do is!?!?!?! 100_1428a.jpg 100_1427a.jpg
 
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