post/59491817837/if-i-knew-id-tell-you-my-baby-3 This turtle doesn’t look healthy! That beak is seriously overgrown. I don’t mean to rain on your parade or dump salt on what you do, it just makes me seriously sad to see pictures of sick or improperly cared for reptiles spread around and cooed at like this is totally okay. :( Potential metabolic bone disease isn’t too cute or win!

Hey Anon, 

Thanks for the message. You’re absolutely right. You aren’t raining on a parade or dumping salt on anything. You are calling attention to an important problem and I appreciate that a lot. I’m sorry. That beak definitely does look overgrown. I didn’t notice that when I queued up the picture. No excuse other than I’d fallen behind and queued up some things on my phone while away this past weekend. 

Still, we often get submissions and/or post pictures of animals taken in as rescues. I can’t claim to know the circumstances surrounding all the images i share but I do my best to share healthy and happy animals and accurate information as best I can with the turtle and tortoise community here on tumblr.  I also learn everything I can from others like yourself that point out things I may not notice, have more experience than I, and are willing to share that knowledge. So thanks for that.

I have no doubt that the aforementioned turtle owner loves their shell baby. In fact, I just got this message:

(The owner of the turtle with the overgrown beak just got him from a pet shop whose staff said he refused pellets and only ate boiled shrimp and chicken. It’s not poor care or neglect on the owner’s part, just in case anyone else was worried.)

In general I try and message people if I see poor husbandry or issues in pictures. I have found that to be the most effective way to help the turtles and tortoise, eliciting a proactive response from the individual. People get defensive and shut off when they feel attacked and thats no good for the turtles and tortoises at all. Or, as in this case, comments lead to information that can let us all rest easy about this shell’s fate. 

As for me, I don’t know everything, or even all that much, but I try my best to share what I know and help shells any way I can. I’ve learned so much in the last few years and I’m learning more every day. I want to share that, not perpetuate a problem. Tumblr is a great forum to share information and I hope that everyone who follows me feels free to point these things out! We need to share information openly and honestly so we can all be better care takers, turtle/tortoise lovers and advocates.

In any case, metabolic bone disease is a big problem, as is the poor care, diet, and general ignorance when adopting a turtle or tortoise (or when in the care of negligent pet stores) lead to it. They aren’t too cute or win at all. Metabolic bone disease is common in captive turtles and tortoises and comes from poor diet, insufficient UVB, and inappropriate housing temperatures. Its an awful disease that worsens with time and poor care. It manifests as over grown beaks, pyramiding, joint fusing, softening of carapace and plastron, serious deformities and internal organ diseases. its no joke and is exactly why its so important to make sure to fully research the proper diet (to ensure the correct amount of calcium and lower amounts of phosphorus), and husbandry (ensure appropriate temperatures and and UVB exposure). Without UVB, calcium is not metabolized properly, and that calcium is best delivered via a quality diet appropriate for your turtle or tortoise. Try a google search if you want to see some pictures. They are quite disturbing and all too common. It won’t start out as severe as some of the images you’ll see, but will rapidly become that way with the continuation of poor care. Having a shelled friend in your care is a serious responsibility. We are the sole arbiters of their needs, having taken over for mother nature by bringing them out of the wild. The least we can do is make sure we collect as much knowledge as we can and provide them with what they need to maintain healthy happy lives.

I have no doubt that, for the most part, we shell parents have the best intentions when caring for our turtles and tortoises, but we have to accept that intentions aren’t enough and do something about it. Thank you for pointing this out Anon.  And please feel free to come off anon and message me. I promise I’m not mean or angry or anything like that. I really want to learn, share that passion, and I’m grateful for the help from you and everyone that follows me, posts about turtles and tortoises, and shares the love (and fear of the #turtpocalypse). 

Leave a Reply