Wisdom From The Experts Pt 4 & 5 Two Turtle and Tort experts, two related pieces of wisdom to share about turtle and tortoise anatomy! Lori Neuman-Lee, PhD (@CheloniaGirl ), prof at Utah State University, says – “I wish people knew that turtles can’t come out of their shells…because their shells are part of their...
Words of Wisdom from the Experts Pt 3- “I wish people knew how smart turtles are. They learn quickly where their food comes from; if from a human then they learn that specific person” Is what Michelle Kelly (@MichelleKellyCW), public speaker about Reptiles and amphibians, wishes more people knew about turtles and tortoises. Those of...
Words of wisdom from the experts pt 2 Check out this INCREDIBLE photo by Amanda Hipps, @biophilamanda, one of the experts who responded to our #worldturtleday question. Amanda studies the animals that live in gopher tortoise burrows. In case you didn’t know, gopher tortoise burrows are home to hundreds of other animals. Their status as endangered directly...
This year, in honor of #WorldTurtleDay, we asked herpetologists, biologists, rescues, and rehabbers, to tell us what they wish more people knew about Turtles and Tortoises. Starting today we’ll be sharing a few responses a day! Let’s learn more about the animals we love from people who have devoted their lives to protecting them. Biologist...
They capture these poor torts and ship them to stores as adults.. dont support local pet shops
It’s true. I don’t know anything about this shop. There are a few (very few) legit places but in general, they poorly kept, illegally captured and provide people with incredibly poor information on care. Pet shops are not good places. Consider adopting from a rescue or finding a reputable breeder. ALWAYS research ahead of time.
It’s been almost seven years since I got this dork. He was so happy when we took him from a woodchip filled vivarium to a proper table with soil substrate, and he has enriched our lives so much. I got him a dandelion flower for his birthday. Can’t believe he’s turning ten already! They grow up so fast. ;’)
Happy birthday Fitzy!!!
Happy Birthday, Fitzy!!!
I’m so happy you found a forever home with humans willing ti give you the care you need to grow happy and healthy! It’s incredible what a difference proper husbandry makes. Heres to another 10 years!
Piggy was so excited when I found our first dandelions of the spring
She’s pretty dirty… she was taking a snack break from working on her burrow
NO TIME FOR BATH! MUST NOM DANDIE! OMNOMNOMNOMNOM
Piggy is a 10 yo sulcata. She was rescued by my family as a hatchling with shell rot, soft shell, and a severe respiratory infection from extremely poor care and neglect in what was essentially a puppy mill for tortoises. Her underbite was likely caused by these poor conditions and she occasionally needs to be taken to get it filed down, not a fun task with a 60lb monster. She was originally rescued along with one more sulcata tortoise who died from her illnesses shortly after despite the expensive veterinary care and medication.
Sulcata tortoises are unfortunately frequent victims of impulse buys from people who simply think they’re cool and don’t bother to learn proper care for the species. These are the third largest species of tortoise, getting up to around 150lbs. By the time the tortoise reaches 30lbs it’ll need at least a 10x10ft area it can roam, and by the time it’s 60lbs it’ll need a whole yard to roam and a large heated and sheltered shed. They are very expensive to provide proper heating, lighting, and housing for. These are not a species for just anyone and I personally don’t think they should be kept as pets at all by anyone. They can be quite aggressive and are strong enough that even a 60lb tortoise like piggy can walk straight through the average chain link fence like a piece of tissue… this is a tortoise that is only 10 years old. They are thought to have the potential to live well over 100 and they are constantly growing. A sulcata WILL get large and you NEED to have a plan should you die or be otherwise unable to care for the tortoise. If you don’t have someone reliable that is able will gladly care for your tortoise for the rest of their lives, should something happen to you, don’t get one, no matter how capable YOU alone might be. If properly cared for the tortoise WILL outlive you and you WILL need a plan for it.
VERY important response by a committed sulcata owner!
The “I Probably Shouldn’t Own Turtles” Starter Pack
This post is not pretty but it is SO important.
you MUST do research before adopting a turtle or tortoise. Know their housing needs, temperature needs, and proper diet. The majority of ‘care sheets’ handed out at pet stores are completely inaccurate. Those “starter kits” that pet stores sell? They are death sentences for your shell friends. They grow, they grow A LOT. Know how big your shell will grow, make sure you can accommodate their needs for many MANY years and at their biggest potential size. They might be fine for a month or two, but not for long and the outcome is sick, dead and/or disposed of turtles and torts.
A little research, talking with experienced keepers, and you can find the right info for your shell and create a home that works for them and for you, probably for less money than those kits cost and a happy, healthy shell friend is the gift you’ll get every day for a very very long time. If you aren’t willing to do that? You shouldn’t own a turtle or tortoise. End of story.
So this is Zuri. She’s a four year old sulcata tortoise that my sister adopted from a rescue. Her previous owners fed her an improper diet and kept her in a terrarium that was so small that she could not turn around. She’s been in rehab for the last couple of months because she doesn’t use her back legs properly. She’s doing much better than she was, but we still have to correct her when she walks and parts of her shell are still soft from her nutritional problems. My sister is extremely patient with her and she’s a really sweet tortoise. I wish that people wouldn’t neglect animals like this though. Because of the things that happened early in her life she’ll never be a completely normal tortoise and will possibly need special care for the rest of her life to address some internal problems.
This is what improper care can do to a tortoise. Please take a look,. Zuri will need special care for the rest of her life. She’s lucky to have found humans committed to caring for her. Too many aren’t that lucky.
It’s turtle breeding season, and yesterday I helped this female red-eared slider (Trachemys scripta elegans) across the road. Many turtles and tortoises will be crossing roadways to breed and lay eggs, and it’s important to know what to do if you encounter one that’s in a dangerous area. If you need to pick one up, grasp it firmly behind the front legs and carry it as low to the ground as you can. Turtles can be surprisingly strong and mobile, covered in mud, and may kick at you with their claws, so if you lose your grip, you do not want them to fall very far. For very large or potentially dangerous species like snapping turtles, you are better off escorting them across the road rather than trying to handle them. (Do NOT pick them up by their rear legs or tails!)
Only carry animals as far as absolutely necessary to get them out of the road and over the curb or other obstacles, and carry them in the direction they were heading when you spotted them. They know where they want to go, so if you turn them around they will likely go right back into the road. Do NOT relocate them. While you might think that pond 10 miles away would be turtle heaven, relocation is extremely stressful and puts them in danger as they will have to rediscover food sources and shelter and compete with existing animals. Females are especially vulnerable as they are already taxed by egg-laying. If you find an injured turtle or genuinely believe the animal would be in danger if you left it where it was, contact a local wildlife rescue or licensed rehabilitator and ask for their advice. Though it may be tempting, don’t handle or linger around the animal more than necessary. Finally, remember to wash your hands, because salmonella is no fun!
IMPORTANT!! Please read This wonderful post.
While our goal is to help turtles and tortoises, it’s important we do it in the right way! Our best intentions can cause harm for the shell!
Always move the turtle or tort in the direction its heading
Never pick them up by the back legs or tail
Cary them low to the ground in case they wiggle free
NEVER relocate a turtle or tortoise. Only take them as far as needed to get them out of immediate danger.
Pass it on!
Remember! Saving one turtle or tortoise can mean saving the life of a decade of hatchlings to come!
Zoya has something very important to say:
Monday is cancelled. Everyone can sleep in tomorrow. YAY!
Definitely DEFINITELY check out your local reptile rescues. Tortoises, especially Sulcatas, are very often abandoned. Their care is more complex than people realize, and their particularly long lifespan makes them a very readily neglected animal.
If you are unable to, or very determined to buy a young tortoise, you can look into private breeders. Just check the BOI first and ask around to see if they are a reputable breeder! Absolutely under no circumstanced buy a wild caught animal, and really reeeeally try to avoid chain stores.
As for species, “pretty large” is a relative term. I really would not suggest a sulcata, as they are the 4th (5th?) largest tortoise in the world.
I say a leopard tortoise, or a red footed tortoise. Red footed tortoises stay smaller (about 12″) but their care is vastly different from desert tortoises. They need a much higher humidity, a small amount of protein in their diet (earthworms, the occasional vertebrate).
The information in the first is more well written, but the second is decent enough.
Leopard tortoises get larger, and their diet also requires more hays, especially if they are not allowed to graze outside (PS being kept outdoors is best for most species, if your environment allows it!).
H/t to isabeljoanvalentine for letting us know about this video: Every time someone (like you!) watches this tortie nom a delicious strawberry, money gets donated to charities! Amazing!
Tortie + NOMS + Alan Rickman + Helping Charities = WIN on all fronts!
Mommy, do you think the tortie in the video would share his delicious-looking strawberry with me? I love strawberries!
Important PSA: Not all tortle species can eat fruit! Many tortle species, such as Russian (Horsfield’s) tortoises like me, should NOT eat fruit frequently: Our guts are simply not equipped to handle the sugar. If you have a tortle of your own (i.e. a turtle or a tortoise), please check its proper diet before feeding it fruit!
Important! These are wise words from Kirby! Sometimes the tastiest things are just not good for us *dramatic sigh* so watch the video again and help save humans! Then do your research on proper diet and make sure your shell baby is happy and healthy, you’ll be saving shell lives too!