2014 08 10 Turtle Mouth To Mouth

First-aid courses don't cover turtle resuscitation, so it's a good thing wildlife ecologist Dr David Steen is good at improvising. Despite the risk of contracting salmonella or having his lips chomped off by a startled reptile, Steen jumped right in when a Florida cooter needed mouth-to-mouth.

As a research fellow with the Alabama Natural Heritage Program, Steen has spent some time roaming the swamps trapping federally endangered Alabama red-bellied turtles (Pseudemys alabamensis) in order to determine their population size. This area is home to a whole heap of native species, so unsurprisingly, the traps sometimes capture other animals as well.

"Earlier this summer (2014) we captured a Florida cooter (Pseudemys floridana) that had apparently drowned in the trap [on rare occasions the tide causes the water to rise above the trap’s air pockets resulting in potentially drowned turtles]," Steen explains in his YouTube video description. "I placed it on the bottom of the boat so we could later preserve it for a museum collection. After about 20 minutes I noticed one of its legs move. So, I started some modified mouth-to-mouth procedures and was pleased when the turtle became alert and took a breath. I repeated the procedure several times. We kept the turtle on the boat for an hour to let it recover before we decided it was ready to be released."

Dr David Steen is one seriously dedicated herpetologist. You can watch the full video of the rescue below. Oh, and just in case you were wondering, the sound of expelling air you can hear in the clip is not all coming from the front end of the shell. Yeah ... that's turtle gas. That's how turtles say thank you.

Header image: Marc Barrison