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How to Get Blood out of a Turtle

Published on March 8, 2013 by Tiffany Coleman

vet tech school

Gloria, an African Spurred Tortoise, is playing a big role in hands-on learning for vet tech students. She is providing them with a liquid lesson that will fill their minds with knowledge.

(MERIDIAN) Getting blood out of a turnip is one thing, but have you ever wondered how to get blood out of a turtle? Better yet, do you have any idea why someone would even want to get blood out a turtle? Students learning about lab animals, exotics, and pocket pets recently got the answers to these two questions—the hard way. As they quickly found out, turtles may be slow—but they are anything but willing. It is quite challenging to tackle the peaceful, prehistoric-looking creatures and get what you want.

Curious creatures like Gloria play a big role in hands-on learning experiences for students in the vet tech school at Broadview University. On this day, the goal is to draw enough blood from the four-year-old African Spurred Tortoise so students can study it under a microscope.

vet tech schoolCasey Blizzard, one of the instructors, is first up to bat. After a few swings and a miss, instructor Heather Williams steps to the plate. With one student holding and Casey engaged in the “arm” wrestle of a lifetime, Heather sees her best chance for success.

“There’s something dark right there in her neck,” she says. “I’m going in.”

A few seconds later, a dark red liquid magically appears in the syringe. It’s not a lot, but it is certainly enough to declare the mission a victory. A student squeezes the liquid lesson onto a slide and puts the rest in a small tube.

vet tech school“This sample will give the students something to look at other than cat blood and dog blood,” Casey said. “We will keep this sample for years and years so that other students can learn from it.”

With victory declared, the students look to see if they can replicate Heather’s success. Three students later—and no more blood—they call it a day.

Now that you know the how and why, the next question is naturally—does it hurt? These instructors say no—but that does not necessarily mean Gloria liked it. Heather and Casey were actually the ones who ended up being bruised and battered. Both had sore fingers the next day.

vet tech schoolThe adventure confirms what famed Harvard Professor James Bryant Conant once said, “Behold the turtle. He makes progress only when he sticks his neck out.”

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