Hundreds of rescued terrapins receive treatment at Stockton University

GALLOWAY TOWNSHIP, New Jersey (WPVI) -- In the past couple of weeks, the Vivarium Animal Lab at Stockton University has received hundreds of rescued terrapins.

John Rokita, who oversees the lab, says it's the largest population of terrapins they've ever taken care of, with a total of 1,112 terrapins to date.

The majority are Diamondback terrapins.

This time of year is known for "spring emergers." They are the hatchlings that hid underground from the winter temperatures.

Many often end up in sewers and drains because it's difficult for them to climb over curbs.

"We have some good Samaritan's in Cape May and Atlantic County that have devised ways to fish them out and bring them to us," said Rokita.

The terrapins spend close to a year at Stockton University until they grow large enough to ward off predators like crabs and crows.

"The end result is to see them at that three to four-inch stage getting ready to be released," added Rokita.

But some of the larger terrapins will remain at Stockton permanently because they don't have the survivor skills to make it in the wild.

Currently, the lab is at max capacity. Rokita encourages anyone who finds a hatchling to make sure it's healthy and then advises people to release them at dusk so they can find a hiding place from predators.

He also says they should be in either a tidal creek or a bay where there is a mix of fresh and saltwater.

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