Written by Stephen Messenger
The intricate coloring of a turtle’s shell is the result of millions of years of evolution, yet someone apparently thought they could improve upon it. They were wrong.
Earlier this week, the good folks at the Wildlife Center of Virginia rescued an Eastern box turtle discovered at a nearby campground after it fell victim to an unscrupulous ‘artist’. According to staff, the reptile’s shell had been vandalized with several types of nail polish and glitter — threatening its survival by making it an easy target for predators.
“Box turtles have this great natural camouflage that just allows them to blend into their environment,” says staffer Amanda Nicholson. “And this is really sending a message to the world of, ‘hey, look at me.’”
The wildlife center isn’t certain whether the turtle is an abandoned pet, or if someone ran across it in the wild and decided to add this gaudy graffiti, but the tagged shell does offer some clues as to who might be responsible. Along with the word “Sheldon”, taken to be the female turtle’s name, are the initials “SKR” and “BDM” — perhaps belonging to the culprits.
So far, Sheldon has received several rounds of scrubbing to remove the paint, but even if clean, it’s unclear whether she’ll ever be able to return to the wild — unless there’s someone who can come forward to explain the animal’s history (no questions asked):
“We only request information on where the turtle was originally found (the more precise the location, the better), how long it was in captivity, and if it was housed with any other turtles,” says the Wildlife Center. “If we are able to answer those questions, we may be able to release this turtle back into her home territory”
Returning Sheldon back into the wild won’t just be better for her, but for all her kind as well. This species of box turtle, native to the eastern United States, is currently listed as ‘threatened’. Every year, thousands of these reptiles are plucked from the wild to be sold into captivity — though made clear by this case, the disruptive inclination of some humans doesn’t end there.
This post was originally published at TreeHugger
Photo from Thinkstock