Medical situations are not always severe, but when in doubt, contact a qualified herp vet.

         Some of the situations we have run into, very seldom need the attention of a vet. Some, on the other hand, require immediate, professional treatment. Below is a list of things that we have encountered and what we have done, both good and bad, and the outcome.




Several of the treatments that you will find throughout the Medical Information sections will recommend two things: Raising temperatures and seeking qualified veterinary assistance.

The reason for raising temperatures in the habitat, to include ambient air temps, water temps and basking temps, is that turtles are ectothermic (their bodies take on the temperatures of their environment). When their temps are brought up, their bodies operate at a more efficient rate, and this includes their immune system. Just like in humans, heat kills infections in the body. That's why we get fevers. It is our body's way of trying to 'burn out' the infection. While this is efficient in a lot of cases, this also has dangers to our well-being when our temps get too high. Turtles are no different in that heat can help, but too much can kill. When raising temps are needed, a 5F raise in waters temps and a 10F raise in air and basking temps is all that is needed. Anything higher than that and you are running the risk of over-heating and causing more harm.

Finding a good turtle vet is crucial. It's not like trying to find a vet when you get a new puppy or kitten - just simply open up the phone book, ask a friend or just drive down the road and you will see them by the dozens. But getting one that actually knows about and is experienced with turtles is a different story. All vets go through a short familiarization on 'exotics' while in vet school, and this includes generalization of reptile care and treatment. While this sometimes 2 week block of instruction is informative, it does not make them 'turtle vets'. That's like you or I going to class for 2 weeks to learn how to fly a personal plane and then being tossed into a large, commercial airliner and trying to do the same thing. So finding a good vet is important, albeit difficult. The NYTTS has compiled a list over the years and ATP has been adding to it, of vets that are known to be good with turtles and tortoises. This is a state-by-state listing of those vets and is being added to all the time.

Again, I can not stress enough the importance of finding a qualified turtle/reptile vet. Most vets are honest and forthcoming about their knowledge of turtles. Just ask. While there are others that are overly confident in their abilities or they don't like admitting that they don't know something and others still, the worst ones, just want to practice. Yes, there are those out there. How to know? You can't. Unfortunately, there is no set way of finding out if a vet is turtle savvy or not. Talking to the vet is a start. Call him/her. Go in and meet. Don't take your turtle with you as they can turn around and charge you for a visit. Ask questions. Be informed before going to the vet. Have an understanding on what's right and wrong as far as husbandry and medical care. Those vets that like to sound like they know more than they really do are less apt to try to snowball you when you seem to know what you are talking about - even if it is just a basic knowledge of their care. A typically bad sign is when you go into an vet's office and all of the attendants rush over and make a big deal out of a turtle. While turtles are great and deserve such respect, this is not a sign that turtles are common in their practice. A great sign, although uncommon, is when the vet sees the turtle and can give the scientific name! That's only happened to me twice. A more common and reassuring sign is when the vet can determine the sex accurately, so know the sex of your turtle before going in and don't put it on the information sheet when filling out the new patient information. Just tell them you don't know. While this is kinda sneaky, it's a means to meet an end - and that is finding out if your choice of vets knows his/her turtles. Also, just because a vet says they have a turtle(s) at home, this again does not make them overly qualified to treat your turtle. As a last resort, if you are uncertain as to what the vet has said, go to Turtle and post a question. Give all available information about the turtle and what the vet said/did. There are enough experienced keepers there that can tell you if the vet seems to be on the right track or not.


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