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  • Author or Editor: Lily M. Hale x
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To describe the clinical features, treatment, and outcomes of wild freshwater turtles with fishing hook injuries.


126 wild turtles residing in central North Carolina that were presented to a wildlife rescue clinic.


Medical records from July 1997 to July 2022 were reviewed, and data were collected and analyzed.


The most common species presenting for a fishhook injury was the yellow-bellied slider (Trachemys scripta scripta) (n = 69/126 [54.8%]; 95% CI, 45.7 to 63.6). The most common location identified was the oral cavity (n = 77/140 [55%]; 95% CI, 46.4 to 63.4) and the most common removal method was retrograde removal after cutting the barb off of the hook (76/120 [63.3%]; 95% CI, 54.1 to 71.9). Fishhooks embedded in the esophagus had a significantly higher chance of complications affecting recovery (OR estimate, 3.49; 95% CI, 1.07 to 11.38). There was no significant increase in mortality associated with the location of the injury; however, there was a significant increase in mortality in patients that experienced complications (P < 0.001). The time in care ranged from 1 to 150 days (median, 16 days). Of the turtles evaluated, 10.8% (n = 12/111; 95% CI, 5.7 to 18.1) were euthanized or died after treatment and 89.2% (99/111; 95% CI, 81.9 to 94.3) were released.


These findings describe various successful techniques to remove fishhooks from turtles. While no superior treatment was identified, considerations should be taken to provide patient comfort, decrease injury-associated complications, and shorten recovery time by using minimally invasive techniques. Overall, freshwater turtles with fishhook injuries have a high release rate even when the injuries are severe.

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in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association