This video shows us what happens when turtles and tortoises have improper care. 

It was created by a turt/tort mailing list member a while back. Its difficult to watch but makes an incredibly important point about caring for our shelled friends. Its vital to do as much research as possible on our little ones and the proper care for their particular breeds. Its also important to spread as much knowledge as possible about the appropriate care to others. There is a ton of miss information out there (especially at pet stores.. but thats a rant for a different day) so it doesn’t hurt to pass along the info we owners have. This video is a sad reminder of what happens far too often when people don’t realize what they are getting into/what is required to care for our turtle and tortoise friends. 

On a personal Note: 

When Zoya first came into my life, I had no idea how to care for a tortoise. I had a small tank, some pamphlets I found at the pet store and some rabbit pellets for substrate. Also had a small UVB lamp and a small basking lamp. I set it up and hoped I was giving her the best housing possible. Well, after falling instantly in love with her, and being a researcher at the time, I wanted to know everything there was to know about tortoises. I read a million websites with lots of conflicting information, joined some message boards specific to Russian tortoises and turtles and torts in general, and two fantastic Yahoo mailing lists (that I recommend to everyone caring for a tortoises or turtle). 

It quickly became clear that I was doing it ALL WRONG. A glass tank isn’t the best for Russian tortoises (and most tortoises really) as they don’t get enough air flow and its hard to keep the proper temperature and humidity gradients. Torties are incredibly smart but they still can’t comprehend the idea of glass and will ram into the sides trying to get out not understanding why the air is hard. Lots of UVB is vital to their growth and metabolizing of calcium. They won’t develop properly without it. A UVB/Heat combo light is 1000 times better than a little UVB lamp and basking light (though this depends on your set up in some ways) having a ton more UVB and making it easier to keep a good gradient of 95 degrees at basking spot and 75 degrees in cool areas.. Pellets aren’t a good substrate since they’ll eat them and it leads to bowel issues and grows mold. Coconut Coir (comes in bricks or bags) is the best substrate and its cheaper and easier to keep moist, mixed with some play sand its perfect. 

There is a lot more where this came from. The “Tort Tools” link on the Tort-time site (or click here!) has a list of resources I found invaluable to making sure Zoya has the best care possible. Check them out!