Posted in Advice Column
on November 7, 2011
Normally on Mondays, I run the turtle or tortoise video posts. I thought we’d take a break for the month of November and bring back the Advice Column posts from way back when. With the holidays fast approaching, many parents will be looking at giving their kids pets as gifts. I hope this guide will help those out there as a guideline of what to look for when picking up a new reptile for the house.
If you’ve ever walked into a pet shop to purchase a turtle for educational purposes, they probably looked all the same. It’s hard picking a healthy pet when you don’t know what to look for. To make your job easier in picking a healthy, happy turtle, you should really take the time to inspect the turtle you want to take home.
Since the list of what you should look for can be fairly long, I’ve made this a four-part post. This week we’ll start by looking at things you should check related to the body of the reptile:
- Is the skin clean, clear, firm, free of scratches and bites? Bites and scratches may lead to infected abscesses later on.
- Is the belly free of burns? Burns may heal, but the skin may, from then on, always be sensitive to bottom heat.
- Is the belly free from ground-in feces? Feces on skin and claws indicate an unsanitary environment and probably a weak and sick animal. Feces on the back of a reptile may indicate a very sick one who is too weak to get out from under stronger cagemates.
- Is the vent free of dried feces and urates? Presence indicates a weak, and possibly parasite- and protozoan-loaded reptile.
- Are the body, limbs, and tail free of lumps and bumps and swelling other than the joints?Abscesses, cysts, and broken bones require veterinary care and treatment.
- Are the back legs shaped normally for that species, or is there a large, hard knot in both thighs? One hard, swollen leg may be a broken bone; both similarly swollen is likely to be severe calcium deficiency.
- Is there plenty of flesh between the neck and forearms, or is there a deep recess on both sides of the neck? Deep recesses indicate a starved chelonian.
- Is the shell firm and without defects? Soft shells indicate metabolic bone disease. Defects indicate possible shell infection due to being kept in unsanitary conditions; there may be a systemic infection, as well.
Next week we’ll look at what you should check for in the head, eyes, ears, nose and mouth of the reptile…
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