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 5°F raise in waters
temps and a 10°F 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
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 Forum.com 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.