Let GO!

Interesting case just published on EP Monthly’s site regarding a snapping turtle.

Patient comes in via ambulance with a 25 pound snapping turtle firmly attached to his upper lip. The turtle isn’t letting go. See the link for a picture. http://www.epmonthly.com/clinical-skills/visual-dx/when-turtles-attack/

How do you get the turtle off of his lip?


  1. I think the bigger question is how do you get a snapping turtle ON your lip??

  2. Call Michael Jackson’s doctor to give the turtle a little propofol ?

  3. I believe you can paralyze reptiles with succinylcholine. Not sure where the best spot is to inject though.

  4. They like dead fish. If this was outdoors I’d try to see if I could tempt it to let go with different chow. Not sure a hospital wants to fool around with figuring out the fastest way to procure a dead fish, though.

  5. Well, should have googled first. e-how says that dead turtle jaws are even harder to pry apart, and that if you can submerge the turtle in water, it will let go.

    So much for my thoughts on the vittles cure. ;o)

  6. Some pic! Kinda makes our little turtle look like a whimp.

  7. Apply a little ethanol or isopropyl alcohol to the turtle’s front lip just under the nostrils. Should make it let go. Make sure you wash it off the turtle afterwards.

  8. Hm. Offer him something yummier than a lip? Other than that, perhaps put him in some ice water and he will fall asleep?

  9. Maybe treat it like a tick-stick a lighted cigarette close behind its butt and it will unlatch and climb away?

  10. I wouldn’t try sedating the thing since that’s a shot in the dark. For all we know then we’d have a passed out turtle that’s still snapped on and now can’t be coaxed at all. Same with taking it’s head off except it would be dead and uncoax-able.

    I would try dunking it completely in a bucket of water. Hard to keep your jaw shut if you’re trying to save yourself.

  11. I was thinking to just get a flat-head screwdriver, insert it into the turtle’s mouth, and twist.

  12. Vets say – squirt some alcohol into it’s mouth with a syringe. Makes most things let go.

  13. I was thinking pop an ammonia inhaler under it’s nose.

  14. Tickle his feet!

    Hard to keep biting if your belly laughing. ;)

  15. The first google link for the search terms ‘sedate a turtle’ is a vet medicine site that says ketamine works.


  16. My sister’s upper lip made the same experience with my large red-cheeked waterturtle. The usual “secret” is to stay calm and offer the turtle an escape into water (i.e. partially submerging it in the filled bathtub). If it doesn’t let go, pry open the jaw with something other than a finger (small stick, toothbrush handle etc.). Vets do that to administer medications when the turtle can’t just eat a med-spiked fish or such.

  17. I have had this problem with crayfish, so here is my solution for crayfish. Get a metal spoon or fork with a flat handle. Insert handle in the space of the crayfish’s claw, and twist until the claw opens.

    As for the turtle, try this. Hold a lit lighter under its jaw until it lets go. Then make soup out of the turtle.

  18. Did you know snapping turtles have long necks and can reach back to halfway behind them on their shell? So keep those hand well away from that front end.

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