Rescued turtle pricked back to health with acupuncture!

Baltimore, Maryland- A rescued sea turtle with a jaw-problem is up and at 'em again thanks to several weeks of an unusual treatment: acupuncture.

The Kemp's ridley turtle is the most endangered sea turtle species in the world (stock image).
The Kemp's ridley turtle is the most endangered sea turtle species in the world (stock image).  © 123RF/tjwvandongen

One tiny animal has gotten pricked back to health!

According to an update from the National Aquarium's Baltimore facility, a Kemp's ridley turtle named Bassoon is no longer in critical condition.

Bassoon was one of 29 turtles that animal rescuers found stranded and cold-stunned in Cape Cod, Massaschuttes, in November.

Cold stunning happens when sea turtles fall in to a hypothermic-type state after the water temperature drops, and become so cold and lethargic that they can't swim. The aquarium team wrote that Bassoon was a "notable case" because the little creature was inactive and unable to open his jaw.

Cold stunned turtles usually suffer from respiratory issues and dehydration, and though they can take a while to get their appetite up, they normally start eating again after a few weeks. But that wasn't the case with Bassoon.

The turtle was on an IV drip for nutrients, and the aquarium team was continually feeding it with tongs to help get its strength back.

But thanks to a new strategy, the adolescent turtle is now foraging for its own food and no longer needs feeding assistance.

Bassoon is on the mend

Acupuncture has been helpful to not just turtles, but snakes and lizards, too. (Stock image)
Acupuncture has been helpful to not just turtles, but snakes and lizards, too. (Stock image)  © 123RF/goodolga

Along with administering IV nutrition to get Bassoon healthy enough to return to the wild, the aquarium team performed a CT scan on the sea creature, from which he was diagnosed with myositis in his jaw – an inflammation of the jaw muscles.

Bassoon received a steroid injection to reduce inflammation, began physical therapy, and tried something a little less expected: acupuncture to reduce swelling and pain.

Dr. Aimee Berliner, the director of animal health and welfare at the National Aquarium, said that "while acupuncture isn't commonly performed, we have used this treatment successfully in the past with other reptiles like snakes and lizards."

"We're so pleased to see Bassoon's progress and look forward to the day when we can return him to his ocean home," she added.

After several weeks of medically-advised pin pricks, Basson is able to look for food on his own again. Yet, he's not quite ready for the wild, as he is still dealing with a touch of pneumonia.

The National Aquarium believes that Bassoon will make a full recovery and eventually be released.

Kemp's ridley turles are the most endangered sea turtle species in the world, and one of the smallest turtle species living in US waters.

Cover photo: 123RF/tjwvandongen

More on the topic Animals: