A turtle found injured on a Whangārei footpath has undergone surgery and is planned to make a new home with four other turtles.

Northland Regional Council biosecurity officer Ashlee Lawrence said a member of the public called in a turtle on the footpath near Albert and Wood Sts just before 8.30am on Monday.

Two officers went and picked up the turtle which had a broken back left leg.

Lawrence said the turtle was very friendly.

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"Very calm, took to being handled. Very obviously someone's pet."

The turtle was found on the footpath in central Whangārei with a broken leg. Photo / Michael Cunningham
The turtle was found on the footpath in central Whangārei with a broken leg. Photo / Michael Cunningham

It was impossible to know how the turtle got to the footpath, but Lawrence said it could have escaped from an enclosure, or been abandoned.

The council put a post on its Facebook page to try to find the owner because the turtle needed treatment on its leg and faced being euthanised.

Whangārei accountant Gavin Austin spotted the post and offered to pay for the vet bills and adopt the turtle.

"This poor guy sounded like he'd had a pretty hard time. I thought they might put him down if no one put their hand up."

He already owns four other turtles which live in tanks at his workplace Austin and Associates. If the injured turtle recovers, it will join them.

"He can enjoy everybody's attention at the office."

Gavin Austin will make room in one of his tanks for a turtle found on a Whangarei footpath. Photo / John Stone
Gavin Austin will make room in one of his tanks for a turtle found on a Whangarei footpath. Photo / John Stone

Austin thinks he'll name the turtle Lost, but is open to other suggestions.

The turtle was taken to Mill Road Vet Clinic for treatment.

There, Dr Kevin Turner, who has a special interest in reptiles, said the turtle had "quite a nasty injury" to its leg. It was badly broken in two places - which could have been caused by landing on something hard.

Turner said one of the breaks would heal on its own, but the second needed surgery to insert a pin.

He said the turtle was "quite unwell" and is on medication to get him stronger and fitter.

"We've done everything possible to give him the best fighting chance. The next couple of weeks will be the telling time frame."

Turner said the turtle weighed about half a kilogram and the length of its tail suggested it was a male.

Experts have struggled to pinpoint what species of turtle it is. The vet clinic thought it was a painted turtle but Northland Regional Council, the Department of Conservation and Napier-based Hot House Turtles managing director Chris Burne said it was a Reeve's turtle.

Burne said the Reeve's turtle is becoming more common as a pet in New Zealand.