Monday, 30 March 2015

care of pet turtles and tortoises (especially in India): Chelonian diseases and Cure ( common diseases of p...

care of pet turtles and tortoises (especially in India): Chelonian diseases and Cure ( common diseases of p...: After writing my previous posts on various pet turtle species I came across many people asking about common turtle diseases so here is a...

Friday, 8 August 2014

Chelonian diseases and Cure ( common diseases of pet turtles and tortoises)


After writing my previous posts on various pet turtle species I came across many people asking about common turtle diseases so here is a list of common pet turtle diseases and how you can cure and prevent them. I can’t emphasize more the importance of a variety in diet and Water hygiene and quality for a turtle, this alone can prevent most of the illnesses for your loving pets. So try to provide your turtle with a variety of diet and clean water and research more and more and share your experiences so that all may learn from them The common diseases of turtles include:
1.   Vitamin A deficiency
2.     Calcium Deficiency ( metabolic bone disease)
3.      Respiratory disease
4.      Abscesses
5.      Shell infections, Shell rot and injuries
6.      Fracture of shell
7.      Parasites
8.      Eye infection/ swollen eyelids
9     Shedding of skin/scutes or retained scutes
Now we will take a look at each of these in some detail.

1.       Vitamin A deficiency:

It appears as changes in skin and mucus membranes of a turtle along with changes in glands of mouth and eyes, lethargy, loss of appetite, swelling of eyelids and respiratory infections in severe cases. The causes are inappropriate diet or low quality food if commercial food is given. It can be corrected by oral or injectable vitamin A but these should be given normally under veterinary supervision as over dosage of Vitamin A is also common in turtles and it may lead to Vitamin A toxicity. Also correct your turtle’s diet as hypovitaminosis A signifies that your turtle’s diet is inappropriate.

2   Calcium Deficiency (Metabolic bone disease):

It is easy to recognize and is common in turtles. It is caused due to lack of Calcium in diet of turtle and absence of UV light or sunlight for turtle which helps in Vitamin D production and Vitamin D helps in absorption of Calcium from diet. It is recognized as shell growing upward, thickened shell, legs thin and deformed, beak becomes duck or parrot shaped, Scutes look raised, pyramid like shell (pyramiding of shell can also be caused due to excess of protein in the diet of turtle, in severe cases you will not be able to see the tail as the body is trying to get calcium from the bones leading to resorption of tail bones. To avoid it you must give a nutritional diet to your turtle, Calcium (if you want you can add cuttle bone to your tank for your turtle or you can mix Calcium supplements in his diet and then give it to him) and Vitamin D (take him out in sunlight regularly or provide a basking UV bulb).

3.       Respiratory disease:

It is a very common and deadly infection in turtles, it can spread very quickly. Its symptoms include sneezing/coughing frequently, breathing with open mouth, swollen/ puffy eyes, and bubbles coming out of nose when out of water, wheezing sound while breathing, frequent yawning, loss of apetite, too much basking or too much sleeping and running nose. In severe cases the turtle will be swimming lopsided when in water instead of swimming level called as “Listing”(the turtle will appear slanted to one side when swimming due to fluid in one of the lungs, the turtle may also swim in circles and be unable to submerge in water due to the fluid in lungs. If your turtle shows Listing immediate veterinary care is needed.  Some steps you can take in less sever cases to try to heal them are: (do these only when Vet help is not at all available, ideally in a disease nothing can substitute a good Vet Expertise)
a.      Quarantine the turtle from other turtle if you have more than one.
b.      Raise the temperature of water and basking area.
c.      Make sure there is no direct cold air contact or breeze to the tank.
d.      Dry dock the turtle (Leave the turtle dry in  a separate tank or tub etc. and leave him in water only for limited amount of time for feeding and for pooping and return him again to dry tank but don’t keep him out of water for whole day , just limit his exposure to water as aquatic turtle can’t produce saliva so they need water for their survival.
e.      Give him exposure to sunlight and warmth.
f.       Call for or arrange for a vet.

4.     Abscesses:

It is an infected pus filled swelling on body, it appears as hard swelling in the turtle’s body which can sometimes have pus and would be soft to touch, the pus would be hard and dry usually with cottage cheese type consistency, It is most commonly found in ear (Ear abscess) behind the eye on the head of turtle. Common cause for this disease is contaminated water, poor diet (or both) and poor general care of turtle. It can only be treated surgically so a vet visit is necessary, the Vet will cut the abscess and drain it and will give antibiotics to your turtle so that it can heal.

5.       Shell infection, Shell Rot and injuries:

Turtles are protected due to their shell which is actually a bony plate covered by Scutes made of keratin which make up our hair and nails, its color is derived from the pigments in scutes. If scutes are damaged then it can lead to exposure of underlying bone. Shell rot and shell infections are fungal and bacterial infections on shell, it can be caused due to shell abrasions, bites or wounds on shell and is aggravated by poor unhygienic water conditions . The organism colonizes the abrasion on shell and due to poor conditions they start growing and multiplying and slowly erode the bone, once they erode the bone they can enter inside the body of turtle, if they enter the body cavity of turtle then its fatal for the turtle and saving them would be very difficult in this stage. It can be seen as white, slimy, smelly patches on the turtles shell which on touching or pressing gives out foul odor sometimes, there may be pus also. If your turtle shows any of the signs immediately visit a Vet, unless you are a very experienced keeper don’t try to heal it on your own or you will surely cause its death.

6.      Fracture of shell:

If it’s minor then you can just clean it and apply antibiotic solution regularly on it so that the wound doesn’t gets infected, it may heal in time. If it’s something major then you should take it immediately to a Vet who can repair the shell and will tell you how to take care of your turtle.

7.       Parasites:

These are one of the most common problems for turtles, some common parasites for turtle include- pinworms, roundworms and hookworms. Symptoms of parasite infection includes loss of appetite, diarrhea, lethargy, weight loss even when fed normally, undigested food in turtle’s poop and turtle spitting out the eaten food. Take him to your Vet, he will suggest a stool examination to diagnose which parasites are infecting your turtle and will usually prescribe some de-worming medicine for your turtle. If you have a wild caught turtle or you have found your turtle recently on streets, sidewalks, near your house, ponds ,pretty much anywhere outside other than a professional breeding place, it’s a good idea to de- worm your turtle since wild turtles may have loads of parasites inside them. To collect stool sample I usually feed them in a different tank and wait for them to poop, as soon as they poop I immediately collect it using a suction cleaner for my turtle tank and remove excess water and store it in a small glass bottle and take it to Vet. There are some professional de-worming agents available which can be used to de-worm the turtle but I would not suggest to use it as you must be pretty much knowledgeable about the ingredients of the preparation and their dosage as an incorrect dose can even kill your turtle, so visit a Vet unless you are very experienced or you yourself are a Doctor.

8.       Eye infection:

This is another infection caused due to poor water conditions and/or malnutrition or poor diet of the turtle.
The symptoms include puffy eyes, watery eyes; red conjunctiva along with red surrounding tissues, the turtle may frequently rub or scratch his eyes. If the turtle’s eyes are swollen and shut the animal is practically blind and can’t find his food so you will have to be extra careful as it may lead to malnutrition and weakness also. You may like to feed him separately in a small tank or bucket/Tub with less water where he can move around easily and eat without competition so that there is no chance of injury and weakness due to lack of food and take your turtle to  a Vet if possible. If only one eye is swollen then it indicates some eye infection or eye injury but if both eyes is swollen then it could either be an injury or hypovitaminosis A or infection, take it to a vet and get it diagnosed, If Vet help is not available then you can try to improve the diet of the turtle and give him vitamin A supplementation through mouth and apply topical anti bacterial applications like Neosporin powder thrice a day along with dry docking to cure the infection and you can also try to give him some anti-biotic like amoxicillin or neomycin orally twice a day 100 mg if your turtle size is about 5-6 inches in diameter of shell (adjust your dosage accordingly) but try to get Vet help first and don’t try to cure turtle on your own. To avoid these conditions provide variable rich diet to turtle and provide good water condition to your turtle.

9.       Shedding of scutes/retained scutes:

When a turtle is growing its perfectly normal for them to shed their scutes, the edges of shedding scutes will become cloudy and will peel off on its own, sometimes you may notice a retained scute which is hanging on the shell, if it is loose you can slowly take it off but if it isn’t coming off easily don’t try to peel it off as you may cause damage to the underlying shell too. If there is excessive shedding of scutes then it indicates a bigger problem like Renal failure which is almost always fatal in my opinion.



                                                           By: Dr. Siddharth Mishra


Disclaimer: The medicines/ treatment and methods of taking care of the turtle/tortoise described here are in no way perfect on their own and patented by the author, they are the result of collective experiences of the author and his readings and by his associations to other keepers and should not be used as an alternative to Professional Vetrinarian advice, Readers should use their discretion when using the medicines and/or care sheet described here, the authors can't be held responsible for any damage, loss, side effect or death of any animal / pet due to negligence of the keeper or the caretaker using any of the above methodologies and treatments.
The images displayed from other sources are the property of their owners and the author no way claims ownership over images from other sources, Original images are the work of author and should be treated as author's property when using for reference or any other miscellaneous use



Monday, 18 March 2013

Care of Indian Tent Turtle (Pangshura Tentoria):-

It is also sold as Singapore Turtle or American Turtle along with Red Eared Sliders as they resemble them when young. Since it was my first turtle and I didn't knew much about turtles at that time so  couldn't take pictures of it. The images below are courtesy of www.chelonia.org and google.





From the images above you can see clearly why it is so easy for them to be confused for Red eared sliders by inexperienced keepers.

Enclosure:

the basic enclosure is same as any other turtle species containing a tank, water, substrate if  you want (personally i don't prefer substrate as it clogs up with uneaten food and poop etc.), a strong filtration system, a basking platform, a basking light and a thermostat to keep the water temperature constant around 75-85 degrees Fahrenheit. If you have a pond then ensure that it is properly covered and protected from predators like Kite, Cats, dogs etc. and that the turtle cannot climb it.
the basic idea of enclosure can be shown as:
a basic tank setup for keeping turtles 
     make  sure that the basking platform is accessible to the turtle and he can climb on it. for basking light use 80-100 W bulb and if you can, provide a UV light also for the Turtle at basking site, you can get it from online sources, if not then make sure that you let your turtle out in sunlight at least for 2 hrs. a day.

Diet and miscellaneous:

It is omnivorous, means it eats every thing. I have fed it variety including Ghost Shrimps, crickets, earthworms,snails, mosquito larva, aquatic insects,feeder fish, aquatic plants, spinach, carrot, radish leaves etc. Initially it eats everything but as they grow they start preferring more vegetarian diet.
Size of this turtle varies from 8"-12". Females grow to a larger size than males but males are brighter in color.  Not much Information is available on their breeding and I was also not able to find a female for breeding. If anyone has any information they are welcome to share it here and I will be sure to acknowledge them.
Also in my opinion they are one of the intelligent species of turtles and are playful, after they get attached to you and start identifying you as their owner they will play around with you and would even come to you if they see you after a long time.
One word of caution for the keepers, even if they are playful and seem cute, they are turtles and not cat/dog so limit touching and holding them in your hands because they may harbor typhoid bacteria or any other virulent organism, also its stressful for your turtle if he/she doesn't like it. Imagine yourself hanging in air for most of your day and then place your turtle in your place, this is how they feel when they are hanging in your hands. Even if they start liking it or become habitual for it you are changing their natural behavior, so if you can avoid touching them much. This is true for any turtle/tortoise species.

                                                            By: Dr. Siddharth Mishra

 



Disclaimer: The medicines/ treatment and methods of taking care of the turtle/tortoise described here are in no way perfect on their own and patented by the author, they are the result of collective experiences of the author and his readings and by his associations to other keepers and should not be used as an alternative to Professional Vetrinarian advice, Readers should use their discretion when using the medicines and/or care sheet described here, the authors can't be held responsible for any damage, loss, side effect or death of any animal / pet due to negligence of the keeper or the caretaker using any of the above methodologies and treatments.
The images displayed from other sources are the property of their owners and the author no way claims ownership over images from other sources, Original images are the work of author and should be treated as author's property when using for reference or any other miscellaneous use


Sunday, 17 March 2013

Care of Indian black Turtle (Melanochelys Trijuga):

It is a medium sized fresh water turtle. despite its name the color of its upper shell or carapace varies largely from reddish to dark brown and black with yellow streaks running along its length.the underside, plastron is uniformly brown in color. The face of this turtle may have yellow or orange marks and spots with the color of these marks varying form 1 sub species to another. it has 6 identified sub species in the Asian region, each having somewhat different pattern of spots on head. Size may vary from 38 -45 cm in length. there is not much information available for this species online but I will try to combine whatever I have experienced with this species and what I  found on internet.

Enclosure:

For a basic idea for its enclosure when keeping it as pet please refer to the sketch below. It gives all the basic requirements for keeping a turtle. In a tank you will need substrate, a good filtration system( canister system is best), water heater if you live in cold area, platform for basking, and basking light. Decorations are additional and depends on your choice, just make sure that they don't hurt the turtle with any sharp edges. If you have a pond then its all the better. It likes slow flowing water with sand substrate or in outside settings a pond with mud substrate is best according to my experience.

Diet:

It is omnivorous, means it eats everything ranging from aquatic vegetation (you can acquire from the local fish shops in cheap rates or collect yourself from nearby ponds and streams) to fishes, snails and aquatic insects. I used to go to a nearby river and catch some insects from the water and bring them for him so that he can feed on them like live natural food along with occasional feeder fish and since I had brought mine when it was small so i also acclimatized him with artificial food.It is most active during early morning and evening time.

Breeding:

 Although I was not able to breed it but will try to give whatever knowledge of breeding I have. they breed during monsoons, at this time males become aggressive and start chasing the female, the male attaches himself on the top of female during mating, after mating is done, female then burrows a nest in the mud or sand along side the enclosure/pond in a warm and sunny area, around 8-10 eggs are then kept in these nests to be incubated for around 60-65 days. the babies are hatched around summer season.

The  images are taken from http://www.arkive.org/indian-black-turtle/melanochelys-trijuga/image-G89324.html .

from the under side



from the upper side


                                                                           By: Dr. Siddharth Mishra



Disclaimer: The medicines/ treatment and methods of taking care of the turtle/tortoise described here are in no way perfect on their own and patented by the author, they are the result of collective experiences of the author and his readings and by his associations to other keepers and should not be used as an alternative to Professional Vetrinarian advice, Readers should use their discretion when using the medicines and/or care sheet described here, the authors can't be held responsible for any damage, loss, side effect or death of any animal / pet due to negligence of the keeper or the caretaker using any of the above methodologies and treatments.
The images displayed from other sources are the property of their owners and the author no way claims ownership over images from other sources, Original images are the work of author and should be treated as author's property when using for reference or any other miscellaneous use

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Care of Indian Flap shell turtle (Lissemys Punctata):


My 12" Flap shell turtle


flap shelled turtle from beneath
It is a very common fresh water turtle found in India and it can be found fairly easily in ponds, steams, marshes, near our house during rainy season and in fish markets. they have a soft leathery type of shell and they are called as flap shell because they have flaps on the plastron above their legs which cover their legs when they retract in the shell. They have a snout which can be seen clearly in the picture above. its size ranges from about 240 to 370 mm in length.

Diet:

It is omnivorous means it eats everything ranging from snails, frogs, fishes, shrimps, aquatic plants, flowers, fruits, plant leaves etc. mine loved aquatic plant (you can buy them from fish store, they are available now a days for setting up planted aquariums, try to get cheap ones or you can directly get them from outside ponds and marshes if you know any), you can also try to make them eat artificial turtle food but i don't know if they will eat it or not, mine just refused to eat it, no matter how much I tried he would never eat it, give it a try may be you will be the lucky one.

Enclosure:

They prefer quite and stagnant waters with sand or mud as a substrate since they like to burrow in it, so if you have an outside pond then it would come in handy, also as with all the turtle species you will have to provide an area for basking in their pond. if you are keeping them in a tank or an aquarium then it should have sand or mud as a substrate, the filtration ideally should be external filters (you will need a powerful filter as they tend to be dirty) my advice would be to not to opt for power filters but go for external canister filters if you cannot afford external power filters , in external canister filters a pump is placed inside the tank which pumps water to a canister placed outside the tank with its outlet connected to tank, the water gets filtered in the substrate of the canister and then flows back from the outlet to the tank. provide a bulb and a platform for them on which they can bask.

A basic idea of the enclosure you can get from the sketch below:-
above layout is applicable for setting up the tank for any turtle, this is a basic layout showing all the things which are absolutely necessary for setting up the tank more features can be added based on your creativity.

breeding:-

they become adult around 2-3 years of age. male and female can be seen in the following image:



 male is on right with elongated body and female is on left with more ovoid shape of body, also see the longer tail of male. if you want to know further about differentiating between male and female you can consult the following link-  http://www.chelonia.org/sexing/sexing_L_punctata.htm
after mating the eggs are laid 2 times in a year in a batch of 2-12 in a nest in sandy or muddy area exposed to sun.

                                                          By: Dr.  Siddharth Mishra



Disclaimer: The medicines/ treatment and methods of taking care of the turtle/tortoise described here are in no way perfect on their own and patented by the author, they are the result of collective experiences of the author and his readings and by his associations to other keepers and should not be used as an alternative to Professional Vetrinarian advice, Readers should use their discretion when using the medicines and/or care sheet described here, the authors can't be held responsible for any damage, loss, side effect or death of any animal / pet due to negligence of the keeper or the caretaker using any of the above methodologies and treatments.
The images displayed from other sources are the property of their owners and the author no way claims ownership over images from other sources, Original images are the work of author and should be treated as author's property when using for reference or any other miscellaneous use


Saturday, 15 December 2012

Care of Indian Star Tortoise (Geochelone elegans):




My Star Tortoise "Rocky"


You can see from the above picture why it is called as Star Tortoise ( due to multiple star like markings on its shell) .

it can also be found in Indian pet trade although its not very common when compared to Red eared Sliders. They are somewhat costly than red eared sliders (about 700-800 / tortoise), depending on its size and availability in your area, a bigger sized tortoise may cost more.
it is a species of dry and scrub area so please don' t I repeat don't leave it into a water tank because it is a tortoise not a turtle and it can swim for only some time and then it will sink and die ( I am saying this because i have heard about the death of 1 tortoise due to this reason). 
It has a dome shaped and very distinctively marked shell in black color  with yellow lines radiating from center of each scute , plastron is likewise with yellow and black radiating lines. it can grow upto 10 inches long. sexual dimorphism is quite apparent with females larger than males and female plastron is much flatter than males, males have a concavity in their plastron which help them in climbing atop female while reproducing.



Care:

Space Requirement:    The preferred method of housing for them is outdoors if possible, because in a climate like India, they would be very happy outside with ample of sunlight and place to roam providing them Sufficient vitamin d and exercise, however they can also be kept indoors. The optimum size for outdoor hosing can be 6 feet by 6 feet cage, in this about 1-3 tortoise can be kept easily, the walls should either be made from 2 layers of fencing one large and one fine wrapped over each other (large and fine refers to size of the holes, you can find them easily in any hardware store just ask them about wire fence,  they are cheap, at my place large one costs about 40 rs/foot and fine one costs around 30 rs/feet). the walls can also be made from wooden blocks at least 2 feet high from the ground so that the tortoise cannot look through or over the cage. the ground can either be soil or covered with grass (grass is better) on one side tall grasses can be planted so that they may eat them. a shelter like a cave or box etc should be provided for them to hide. they can also be housed indoors in that case you can house them in a tub or a tank but you need to provide a hiding spot, a source of warmth ( a bulb can be a source,exercise your imagination and you will come up with a source), newspaper could be used for a substrate or soil can be put into the tank for natural look or the tank can be made a combination of both newspaper on one side and soil on another side. even if housing indoors you need to take out your tortoise outside once in a while in sunlight for Vitamin D, I used to leave mine on my roof where they would roam as much as they like and hide behind flower pots. they are very vulnerable at younger age so you need to be extra careful in case of a younger tortoise, also keep safety measures for predators like Cats, Mouse and kite etc. they are especially dangerous for a younger tortoise; even a mouse can kill and eat them easily if it gets the chance. provide a bathing tray if enclosure is inside or a small pond like area if the enclosure is outside so that they can drink, bathe, and cool themselves. I provided my tortoises with a fixed tray which i glued to the base with quick fix so that it won't move because many a time they would like to soak themselves in water and go inside the tray for fun.

Temperature range: 

temperature may range from 80 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit or around 28-32 degrees Celsius although warmer temperature up to 35 degrees may be no problem if drinking and bathing area and a shade is provided in the cage. the moisture should be kept in check which means that take care to not leave the enclosure wet and moist, if you see that the substrate is wet (in indoor setting) change the substrate and dry it, outside it may not be a problem. In India, take care during the summer season especially in afternoon because the temp. may go up-to 47 degrees Celsius which may become a problem especially if the cage is outdoors, like at our place during summers the temp goes up-to 48 degrees so I kept them indoors only and limited their basking time to 1-2 hrs in the morning instead of  whole day in other seasons.
Indoors, you can keep them in any room even without cooler and AC and i would suggest you to keep them in a room where no cooler or ACs are present because of 2 reasons; 1. it provides them with a natural environment climate which they would have found in the wild and 2. coolers and ACs may cause too much cooling or humidity especially in case of cooler, which may be harmful to them.

Basking:

They like to bask in sun and it is essential for synthesis of vitamin d in them which is needed for proper bone growth
so in outdoor setting provide them an area to bask and an area to cool themselves in shade; a patch of grasses is best for them or a small bush can also work well. in indoor settings; 
Some suggestions can be-
1. you can either go for complete tortoise setup or Professional UV set up available online or if by chance available at your local fish store but they may be costly.
2. you can attach a table lamp with a cover around the bulb (to concentrate the light on an area) to any side of the tank or tub and let it hang over that area and keep it on and use bulbs not CFLs because they don't provide that much heat.
3. or you can attach an aquarium water heater or thermostat with a heater guard( used for large fishes like Arowana etc. so that they don't break the heater) on it and cover it with a rock or metal sheet (take care that metal sheet doesn't touches the heater  only wraps closely to it to conduct heat and no electricity) and keep it on one side of the enclosure and additionally you may provide a combination of both bulbs and heaters.
whatever you do, nothing can substitute natural sun light, so try to take your tortoise outside at least 3-4 times in a week.

Diet:

diet should be strictly herbivorous, i fed them spinach, grasses, a variety of flowers from my garden like hibiscus, petunias even rose petals which was very much liked by one of my star tortoises, i even fed them sprouts without their seeds like removing the wheat portion and giving the sprouted parts to eat, grasses from lawn, and fields, grape leaves, i also fed them with all types of green leafy vegetables mostly ( called as bhajis in India, the "Lal Bhaji" which is red in color was not liked by them but they ate all the others especially after basking, all types of "bhajis" are readily available in vegetable stores or "sabji- mandis" in India), i also fed them cucumber and tomatoes, although don't let them eat tomatoes and cucumber regularly it is bad for their health; any type of wet food should be given with caution because it may cause diarrhea in large and regular doses. wet foods may include cucumber, tomato, lady finger, radish (although radish leaves an be given readily and mine loved it), "kakdi" the cucumber like vegetable which comes in summers only(I can't recall it's english name) etc. give these with caution. also i fed them with Peas but i would recommend you to not give them peas because i think it is like sweet dish for them and they get addicted to eating peas, mine got addicted to it and from a mixture they would sort out peas only and eat it,  i got headaches trying to get them leave this habit because it caused them diarrhea. Also try to habituate them to commercially available food also, although, this should not be whole of their diet regimen but they should be able to eat them, if they are not eating it, try to soften it in water before giving it to them so that it can be eaten easily. give them calcium supplements like "calcium sandoz"  etc. crush the tablet and spread it over the food before giving it to them this would take care of their calcium requirements. you can also give them hay and cactus after removing its thorns , even if it's a thorn less variety clean it thoroughly and then give it, otherwise it could harm the tortoise. Take care to wash your food properly before giving it to them and if possible use organic food.
you can feed them twice a day when they are small and once a day when they have grown enough (that is about 8 inches in diameter according to me).
Take care not to give them wet food, high protein diet and non veg food. aim for a diet which is dry, low fat and low protein and very high in fiber.
Tortoise poop should be dark in color and firm in texture, if the tortoise is having loose poop or green colored or any different colored  poop then their is a problem with the diet and the food should be checked or the tortoise may be suffering from intestinal parasites
the pic of how a poop of star tortoise should ideally look like can be checked from this link- http://startortoises.net/images/poop-bur.jpg






rocky eating vegetables

Miscellaneous tips:

1.  if your star tortoise is new, the preferable enclosure would be indoors. provide them with dry substrate and warm conditions do not let them be in humid or wet conditions for too long.

2. know as much as possible about the species and then use your common sense because on internet many pages discuss many different things and many of the things discussed may not be applicable to Indian conditions or you may not be able to buy them in India at all. for eg.; I searched everywhere for UV lamp in my area but couldn't find it, so had to come up with my own plan for their care. That's why read as much as possible then use your mind and see what is working and what's not with your tortoise because every individual tortoise is different, out of the 4 which I have one of them likes rose petals while others don't like them that much even though they are of same batch and same age.

3.  Bathing: it seems that they like to bathe if  they are bathed properly.The correct method is either hold them in your hands and then keep them in running tap water (flow should be slow and water temperature should be warm) or alternatively you can put them in a box or bucket which has some warm water in it which is enough to  soak them  up to their legs and then slowly pour Luke warm water over them with help of a mug. Take care that the tortoise doesn't drowns or tries to swim in the water. When the water level is up to the ends of their legs and beginning of shell then stop and let them roam in water for some time this will help them in defecation, the tortoise will poop in the bucket if the temp. of water is warm enough, this will also prevent your substrate from getting soiled. take care to remove them immediately once they have pooped and if doing daily then do it with caution especially in winter and rainy seasons.

4. If they are sick and have a stomach upset or you suspect they have stomach infection/ systemic infection you can give trustogyl to them, you can either give this medicine from its dropper if your tortoise allows you to do so or you can give it mixed with food, or you can  try to tempt your tortoise with a slice of his favorite food and then as soon as he opens his mouth you can insert the dropper inside and make him drink the medicine.

5. they also love Ivy gourd (kundru in India normally), Ladies finger (Bhindi), spring onions (green onions and their leaves), boiled potatoes (in small amount) and Bell Pepper (Shimla Mirch). You can give these food items also to them for a change. 
 [but major part of their diet should be leafy vegetable and leaves and food full of fibers and having less water content]

6. if you are keeping them in your room and touch and hold them many times in a day then you can keep a hand sanitizer (like one from Dettol) for sanitizing hands after touching them, this will reduce your need of washing hands every time you touch them and decrease chances of infection.

7. If they are hurt or are wounded due to any reason then don't touch the wound much, just clean it with a diluted solution of dettol for 1 day and apply neosporin powder over it at least twice in a day, this will help them in healing along with their usual dose of sunlight and food.  

8. you can make a diluted solution of dettol in water and use it to wipe clean the enclosure of the tortoise once every 2-3 days and whenever it gets soiled due to poop and pee so that it remains germ free.

9. If you give them calcium additionally then keep an eye on them because many times it may cause them loose motions if given regularly (so if you give it to them then give in 2-3 days and in less amount)

10. If some one cannot find trustogyl as a brand then you can buy its ingredients separately and give them together, the ingredients are metronidazole and norfloxacin, adjust the dosage according to age and size, i think in trustogyl they are in combination of 100mg metronidazole and 120 mg norfloxacin which is given twice a day normally. These dosage are for a tortoise having shell size of 5-6 inches in diameter, adjust your dosage for a bigger and smaller tortoise.

  By:  Dr. Siddharth Mishra










Disclaimer: The medicines/ treatment and methods of taking care of the turtle/tortoise described here are in no way perfect on their own and patented by the author, they are the result of collective experiences of the author and his readings and by his associations to other keepers and should not be used as an alternative to Professional Vetrinarian advice, Readers should use their discretion when using the medicines and/or care sheet described here, the authors can't be held responsible for any damage, loss, side effect or death of any animal / pet due to negligence of the keeper or the caretaker using any of the above methodologies and treatments.
The images displayed from other sources are the property of their owners and the author no way claims ownership over images from other sources, Original images are the work of author and should be treated as author's property when using for reference or any other miscellaneous use


 



Sunday, 7 October 2012

Care of Red Eared Slider Turtles


Red-eared slider (Trachemys scripta elegans):

 Baby Red eared slider


                                               
  These are the mot common ones sold as "Singapore turtle" or "American turtle" in India (most common name). They have a distinctive red mark around their ears and are overall green in color.   The top shell(carapace) is flat and oval in shape and has a keel which is more pronounced in young ,it is dark green in color with dark color markings all over it. The bottom shell (plastron) is yellow in color with dark colored lines. Female grows to about 10-13 inches and male grows to 9-11 inches. tail of male is much longer and thicker than female along with longer claws than female.

CARE:-

 1.Space requirement:-
Mature red eared needs water up to 70-80 gallon or around 240-250 ltr of water, baby may need up to 30 ltrs. of water, so its a good idea to keep them in a large aquarium from start  as this will fulfill their space requirement for a long time giving you time to plan for its future home. around 4 feet length will do the work for about 4 years.

2-Temp range-
 They prefer warm water in range of 26-30 degree so make sure to add a thermostat in the setup to maintain it during winters; may not be needed in warmer parts of India and in during summers.

3- Basking-
 They like to bask, that is they like to come out of water and dry them completely under a heat source be it sun or artificial source of light, so make sure to provide a light source for them in their indoor tank which can be done by a 30-40 watt bulb fitted inside a lamp and fixed above the basking platform in the tank.
.
4-Sunlight-  
It is very important for them for their shell growth, so keep them outside for 2-3 hr daily if possible if not then they should be kept in sun once every 2-3 days.in India sunlight is ample so we can take them outdoors in a tub and keep them in sun for 2-3 hrs comfortably. I personally use a different tub to bring them outdoors and then transfer them in a separate tank indoors.

                     
Pair of Red Eared Sliders
             
 Red eared slider basking in the Sun 

5-Substrate-
 This is a Question of preference, if you want you can keep substrate in their tank but make sure that it is not too small ( it can be eaten by them causing their death) or too big and rough which can injure them, I personally don't prefer substrate because i feel that it is more convenient  to clean the tank without substrate.

6.Filtration- 
 A good filtration is very much essential for a turtle tank since turtles are very messy eaters and produce a large amount of waste, so provide a good filtration system to their tank. In my opinion an external filtration system is best for them in which the canister is kept outside the tank, in this you can add filter media in many layer along with chemical filtration systems like charcoal, it has given very good results in my tank with very less dirt and algae.

7. basking platform-
Make sure to provide your turtle a basking platform inside a light source on which it can climb and bask, if possible provide a UV light near basking platform, although they are hard to get in India.

 8. Dietary habits-

  Red eared slider have a variety of diet, when they are baby they eat mostly non veg diet like live fish, earthworm(frozen or live), frozen or live tubifex worms, frozen or live shrimp, tadpoles, snails etc, as they grow older they eat vegetable food also like tomato,carrot, aquatic plant etc. they especially enjoy live food like feeder fish, earthworm etc.they can also be given commercially available turtle foods available at shops from companies like aquafin, taiyo , toto etc. i personally have found aquafin to be good, taiyo made water more dirty; check before buying that it is turtle food only not tortoise food as they both have different compositions and different tastes but they look similar so many shopkeepers confuse them with each other.   but also keep in mind that they should not be kept completely on them and should be fed variety of food.

9. Breeding of Red Eared Sliders:

It usually starts during March-July. The male swims toward female during  courtship and flutter his long claws over her head if female is receptive  then mating may start if she is not receptive then a fight may issue, mating lasts for 10-15 mins. after the female is pregnant she will spend more time basking to keep fer eggs warm.she may also have change of diet eating certain food while not eating other. egg laying occur around may to July  eggs hatch  60-90 day after being laid.

 By: Dr. Siddharth Mishra



 Disclaimer: The medicines/ treatment and methods of taking care of the turtle/tortoise described here are in no way perfect on their own and patented by the author, they are the result of collective experiences of the author and his readings and by his associations to other keepers and should not be used as an alternative to Professional Vetrinarian advice, Readers should use their discretion when using the medicines and/or care sheet described here, the authors can't be held responsible for any damage, loss, side effect or death of any animal / pet due to negligence of the keeper or the caretaker using any of the above methodologies and treatments.
The images displayed from other sources are the property of their owners and the author no way claims ownership over images from other sources, Original images are the work of author and should be treated as author's property when using for reference or any other miscellaneous use

                            

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

How to choose a healthy turtle

We all who have gone to a fish store or a pet shop and have seen small cute turtles swimming in an aquarium or if its a tortoise then kept in a cage, many of us have longed for them and bought them after listening to the pet store owners explaining  how it is easy to care for them- just toss some food twice a day and your turtle or tortoise will grow happy and big. One day we find that our lovely friend is either sick or it dies due to sickness or neglect, leaving us regretting about it. Rest assured we can be sure of success in keeping a Chelonian species(scientific name of turtle and tortoise family) by keeping few points in mind while buying a turtle:

1. don't buy a turtle on your first impulse of buying , they may look cute and small but if they are given adequate care they can outlive their owner also they can grow pretty big very fast so you will have to be ready for a big commitment which means arranging an enclosure with sufficient space for them, maintaining hygiene of their enclosure, feeding them and taking care of their needs  . Don't let the store guy trick you, they are not that easy to keep and they do need care and attention. Especially in India, they keep a group of them together, cramped in a small aquarium and will say anything to ensure the sale like they don't need much space or cleanliness to keep or they won't harm your fish so you can keep them together with your fishes etc. Don't believe them, they can eat your fish if they get a chance and even the most common variety sold in India- Red eared sliders can become quite big (size of your dinner plate). So keep these points in mind and see whether you are ready for the commitment or not. If yo are not ready for the commitment or you have other obligations like you have to relocate from the city after some time or you don't have enough space or you can't afford food for them or time for them then I would suggest you to not buy them so that at least you are not accountable for death of an animal who could have been saved if proper care would have been provided to it.
2. Now, even after considering all this you want to buy a turtle then check that its shell is smooth and glossy not dull, when you hold the turtle in your hand it should completely hide inside its shell (with an occasional peek), bring it  near your ear and hear for sounds of any wheezing, coughing,or clicking; check that it should not have a running nose, it should be active and if you leave it on a floor or dry surface(try that the surface should be smooth or at least without big dust particles or stones or any other thing which can damage its shell)  it should try to escape which is a good sign; check that they don't have any limp while running; the shell should be perfectly smooth and hard without softness, sponginess, any broken or damaged parts etc. if it is damaged then look for other one or else wait for some days and get a healthy one because the one with soft shells are more likely to have various deficiencies and less chance of surviving  than the one without any deformity . It should not make bubbles while breathing and should fit to its shell completely- an undersized shell means under nutrition. The eyes should open completely without any puffiness or swollen eyelids( check especially for this since this is one of the most common symptom of illness and is a very dangerous one)
                                         Keeping in mind these points you can assure that you choose a healthy turtle 95% of times. Take your time in pet shop and observe the turtle you are going to buy for some time to be sure for it so that it may remain with you as your life long friend for many years.
a healthy Red eared slider baby

a healthy turtle
                                       

[P.S.- To clear above point i would like to cite an example from real life. Once i went to a local fish store and saw some red eared sliders being kept in a small aquarium with fishes, there were 4-5 of them, when I was observing them a man came to the store and asked the store guy for a turtle, he selected  a turtle which was bigger in size but which appeared unhealthy since it had what appeared like a soft area on his shell , i offered him my free advice (which i shouldn't have done but couldn't stop myself) and pointed to him a smaller one which was more healthy but he didn't opt for it because he wanted a bigger one and the store keeper said that since the turtle was continuously in water, its shell has absorbed water and has become soft (What the hell? as if there shell is sponge which can absorb water and become soft and then lose water to become hard again), after about 3 months, I visited the same store for buying some fishes and coincidentally i found that same person who bought that sick turtle against my unsolicited advice, I talked to him and inquired about his turtle, he said that the turtle survived for about 30 days  at his home then it stopped eating food and died in 5-6 days and he has come to buy a new one again. So, we can see what can happen if we don't plan ahead and keep these general things in mind]

                                                           In next post we will discuss common turtle species found in India as pets .

                                                                                By: Dr. Siddharth Mishra

 Disclaimer: The medicines/ treatment and methods of taking care of the turtle/tortoise described here are in no way perfect on their own and patented by the author, they are the result of collective experiences of the author and his readings and by his associations to other keepers and should not be used as an alternative to Professional Vetrinarian advice, Readers should use their discretion when using the medicines and/or care sheet described here, the authors can't be held responsible for any damage, loss, side effect or death of any animal / pet due to negligence of the keeper or the caretaker using any of the above methodologies and treatments.
The images displayed from other sources are the property of their owners and the author no way claims ownership over images from other sources, Original images are the work of author and should be treated as author's property when using for reference or any other miscellaneous use