Tortoises & Turtles


Nutritonal problems are the one of the most common reason pet reptiles become sick. Captive reptile diets are notorious for being imbalanced in many vitamins and minerals. This is mostly just due to the fact that it's still very hard to completely simulate their natural food sources using what is available to us in stores. Supplements give us a helpful and necessary tool to make up for these gaps. This short article will discuss our recommendations for providing supplements to pet reptiles. 

So you found a wild Desert Tortoise?

It's essential to respect the legal protection of Mojave and Sonoran desert tortoises throughout Arizona. Since 1988, Arizona State law strictly prohibits any form of harassment, harm, pursuit, hunting, shooting, wounding, killing, trapping, capturing, or collecting of these animals. Understanding the current regulations is crucial, and you can find them online at or by contacting a local Arizona Game and Fish Department office.

Basic Care: Golden Greek Tortoise

Several species have been referred to as Golden Greek Tortoises, none actually originating from Greece at all. The two most commonly seen species in the pet trade are Testudo terrestris and Testudo floweri, the former probably being the most common of the two. The natural range of T. terrestris is Northern Iraq to Turkey and Syria whereas T. floweri has a far more limited natural range, found only along a narrow strip of land along the coasts of Israel and Lebanon and possibly as far west as Egypt in the Sinai. 
Both species are found in moderate to hot arid climates and both may remain fairly active late into the winter, aestivating partially submerged into shallow pits or burrows, retreating for brumation only during the coldest times of the year. 
The natural diet of both species is similar to that of other Greek tortoises (T. graeca) consisting of edible weeds, thistles and vegetative debris. 

Basic Care: Leopard Tortoise

The leopard tortoise (Geochelone pardalis) is found in central and southern Africa.  Leopard tortoises have very distinct individual personalities. Some may be shy and retiring while others are outgoing and friendly.  They live for decades and seemingly become quite bonded with their owners.  Most will outlive their owners if given the right care. 

Basic Care: Box Turtles

Box turtles belong to the genus Terrapene.  These turtles are personable, hardy, and can live over 50 years. These turtles have a hinged shell, which they use as a defense mechanism to close up tightly when they feel threatened. If you choose to keep a box turtle as a pet, choose captive-bred individuals rather than encouraging continued collection by buying wild caught. Due to habitat destruction and over collection for the pet trade, some box turtle species may be protected in your particular area.  Check your local and state laws regarding box turtles to ensure you can keep a particular species in your area. 

Nutritional Secondary Hyperparathyroidism / Metabolic Bone Disease

Nutritional Secondary Hyperparathyroidism (NSHP), commonly referred to as “Metabolic Bone Disease”, is a common and serious health problem in pet reptiles. This disease causes the bones to become soft and brittle, easily bending and breaking. These fractures are referred to as pathologic fractures or fractures that occur during normal activity due to disease of the bone, not because of excessive trauma. In many cases, reptiles may have multiple fractures all over their body. Young growing reptiles may also develop swelling of the jaw and limbs, called fibrous osteodystrophy or “rubber jaw syndrome”. In severe cases, where the calcium in their body becomes dangerously low, reptiles develop muscle tremors, paralysis, and can lead to death.