Reptiles

Reptiles

Please keep in mind that wild animals belong outside, it is unfair to bring a healthy wild animal inside among people (which are scary large predators to them) to allow domestic animals to play outside. What may be a temporary inconvenience to you or your pet is saving a wild animal from being taken away from their important ecological roleMany reptile population sizes are rapidly declining due to habitat loss and human-reptile interactions.  Remember that you are MUCH bigger than native reptiles, and they are more scared of you than you are of them!

The public should not handle reptiles unless it is necessary for the safety of the animal or because it is injured and needs to go to a rehabilitator.  All reptiles can carry salmonella which is easily transferred to humans.  Use gloves or wash your hands thoroughly after handling any reptile.

If an animal is obviously injured and needs attention, please follow the

Temporary Housing Protocol:

Place the animal in a securely covered box (some animals are escape artists), making sure there are ventilation holes.

If possible, place a heating pad under half of the box and place the heating pad on LOW.  This will allow the animal to escape from the heat, if it needs to.  If you do not have a heating pad, you can use a water bottle filled with warm (not hot) water.  Place a thin towel around the water bottle and place it next to the bird.  Reptiles are cold-blooded and need a heat source at all times to keep their body temperature up.

Place the box in a quiet, safe, dark location in your home.  This will help minimize stress to the animal.  Minimize contact with the animal as animals are wild and will become easily stressed, they can also acclimate very quickly to people and may become non-releasable.

DO NOT ATTEMPT TO FEED any wild animal! Without the proper training and feeding devices it is VERY easy for these animals to aspirate (food or liquid enters lungs instead of stomach) which leads to severe pneumonia.

Call WildNet (919)572-9453 or a local wildlife rehabilitator for further instructions. Keep the baby warm and quiet and still do NOT feed or offer it any water even if you keep it overnight.

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Snakes

Please be aware that there are several venomous snakes in North Carolina. To help in identification of the animal, visit these websites:

Davidson’s College – Snakes of North Carolina:
http://www.herpsofnc.org/herps_of_NC/snakes/snakes.html

NC Museum of Natural Sciences: http://naturalsciences.org/sites/default/files/files/documents/research-collections/Venomous_Snakes_of_NC.pdf

Venomous snakes of North Carolina include: Copperhead, Cottonmouth (or Water Moccasin), Eastern Coral Snake, Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake, Timber Rattlesnake and the Pygmy Rattlesnake.

Remember, your and your family’s safety is most important and all precautions should be taken with any snake.  Also remember, the snake is more afraid of you than you are of it!

  • I found a snake outside:
    • It is generally a good idea to avoid any confrontations with a snake. Most people are only bitten when they try to touch or harm the snake. If you see a snake outside the best thing you can do is to leave it alone as it will move along shortly.  Many people are actually glad to see a snake nearby as they are nature’s rodent control!  If it is in an area that you need to get to, make loud noises (including stomping on the ground), a safe distance from the snake.  Leave the area for 30 mins – 1 hour and return.  The snake will likely have left.
  • There is a snake inside my house:
    • The Piedmont Wildlife Center does not perform animal removal services. First try and open up as many exits to the outside and within the snake’s view to provide an escape route for the snake. Be sure to block off paths to other areas of the house to prevent the snake from entering further. Again, try not to attempt to harass or nudge the snake as it will focus on you and not the escape routes causing it to possibly strike at you. If this is unsuccessful we recommend contacting these two humane animal removal services:
      • Raleigh: Triangle Wildlife Removal, Inc: (919) 661-0722
      • Durham: Critter Control: (919) 382-0651
  • I found an injured snake:
    • If you positively determine the snake to be non-venomous and can successfully capture it please make sure it is in a well secured box and or pillowcase tied shut. It is generally best to tape the lid shut and poke pin-sized holes (before snake is in box) to prevent escape.  Snakes are known escape-artists.  Please be aware that dead snakes can retain an involuntary bite reflex; caution should be used when touching any snake. If you think it may be venomous please do NOT handle the snake.  Also, remember that any (venomous or non-venomous) snake may bite or musk if threatened.
    • If a snake is caught in fencing, gently try to remove the snake without breaking scales.  If the snake is caught in a fence it is likely panicked and may not be easily handled.  If you are not able to remove the snake, please call a local rehabilitator or our WildNet line at 919-572-9453.

Turtles

Piedmont Wildlife Center discourages against taking turtles of any kind from the wild to keep as pets.  Several turtles in North Carolina are threatened or endangered and therefore ILLEGAL to possess without appropriate permits and many turtles’ populations are in decline.

Keeping a turtle is also a lot more work than people realize as turtles require a nutritionally varied diet and daily habitat maintenance.

It is unsafe to release a native turtle that was captured in the wild in any other location other than the exact place in which it was found.  Releasing animals into areas where they were not found can introduce new diseases into the population, affect the genetic quality of the current population, and the individual may not be able to find food, water, and shelter.

It is ILLEGAL to release non-native species such as Red-eared Sliders into the wild.

If you have a “pet” turtle that you no longer wish to keep please go to: Reptile Rescue of the Carolinas or Carolina Pet Rescue for help.

  • I found a turtle crossing the road.
    • If the turtle is unharmed you may move the turtle from the road to the curb in the direction it was heading.  Turtles have specific territories and bodies of water in which they spend their lives.  Unfortunately, roads are sometimes built through these territories. Taking a turtle several miles away from its home territory means the animal is going to attempt to make the trek back to the spot it originated or it will have to find food, water, and shelter before encountering a predator, endangering itself further.
  • My dog was in contact with the turtle.
    • Dogs often see turtles (particularly box turtles) as great chew toys. If your dog has played with a turtle please examine the turtle for any injuries.  If injured, contact a local rehabilitator.  If not injured, place the turtle back where you found it and monitor to see if it has come out of shell (to see any other injuries), moved, or seems injured.
  • There is a turtle in my yard, does it need help?
    • If you notice any bubbles coming from the nose, swollen eyes, abnormal growths (including growths around ears) or obvious injuries the turtle needs professional help, please follow the temporary housing protocol and call WildNet or a local wildlife rehabilitator.
      • Also, note the time of year.  Turtles hibernate in the winter and start to come out of hibernation mid-February.  If a turtle has recently come out of hibernation it will move very slowly, or be partially buried.  Its eyes may be watery from being closed for a few months!
    • If the turtle appears to be healthy and you don’t live near a source of water, you have likely found a box turtle. These are terrestrial turtles with rounded, dome like shells that can completely close, and stumpy, non-webbed feet. It is perfectly NORMAL to see these turtles in NC, especially if you live near a wooded area. The turtle may have come out of the shade to the middle of your yard to sun itself and will likely move on in a few hours. If there are pets in the area, please keep them away from the turtle or just outside a fenced in area.  Moving the turtle to a new location is not recommended and can be detrimental.  If you have found a healthy box turtle, you can participate in our citizen science project.
    • If the turtle appears to be healthy and you live near a source of water you may have found an aquatic turtle. There are many species of aquatic turtles in North Carolina.  These turtles have shells flatter and wider than box turtles and have webbed feet. Water turtles cannot close their shells. Water turtles will come out of the water to sun themselves regularly and to lay their eggs in the early summer through fall. If pets are a concern you can place the turtle out of reach or closer to the waters edge.

Both land and water turtles are capable of a painful bite, especially snapping turtles.  A snapping turtle can turn its head 180 degrees! Most turtles are harmless, but with all wildlife you need to be cautious! Turtles should be treated with respect and caution when handling or moving them.


Domestic Animals

If you have found a domestic species, which includes feral cats; please use the links below to find an appropriate contact.  Piedmont Wildlife Center cannot refer the public to rehabilitators for domestic animals.  These animals should be examined by a veterinarian or taken to a local animal shelter, if no owner is found.

Domestics:

Domestic animals are any animal that depends on humans for food, water, shelter and space, such as: dogs, cats, parakeets, hamsters, iguanas, chickens, etc. If you find an injured stray animal, you must take it to a veterinary clinic for domestic or exotic species.