Tortoises & Turtles

Basic Care: Desert Tortoise

The desert tortoise is a threatened species throughout much of its range which includes both the Sonoran and Mojave deserts. Recently the desert tortoise was split into 2 separate species.The Agassiz's desert tortoise (Gopherus agassizi) lives in the Mojave deserts of California, Nevada, Utah, and Arizona west of the Colorado river. The Morofka's desert tortoise (Gopherus Morafkai) resides in the Sonoran deserts of Arizona east of the Colorado river and Mexico.  The 2 species can interbreed and many of the captive tortoises in the Phoenix area are hybrids, which can only be determined by genetic testing.

Wild desert tortoise populations are threatened by development and destruction of natural habitat. In the meantime, captive tortoises have the opposite problem and have become over-populated. Large numbers of tortoises now sit homeless in sanctuaries throughout the southwest US. Wildlife officials are unable to return these captive to the wild because many are hybrids and there is a high risk of exposing wild tortoises to any diseases carried by these pet tortoises.

Swollen Eyes in Aquatic Turtles

Baby red-eared sliders are often sold on the side of the road, at swap meets, and in other ways that can negatively affect their health.  These tiny turtles have sometimes been kept in unhealthy situations between the time they hatched and when they finally ended up in your hands. They may have become too cold, too warm, or overly stressed.

Basic Care: Red-eared Slider

Red-eared sliders are the most popular aquatic turtle kepts as pets.   The commercial sales of baby turtles to the public is illegal due to the "4-inch law" regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (Title 21, Part 1240.62 of the Code of Federal Regulations 21 CFR 1240.62 (b) and Compliance Policy Guide 7129.01).  This law does not ban the sales of baby turtles from one hobbyist to another.

Box Turtles: Common Problems

Box turtles are hardy and long-lived if cared for properly.

A common mistake is feeding a diet too low in vitamin A, calcium, or other nutrients.  Depending on the nutrients that are missing, a malnourished box turtle will suffer from dry flakey skin, overgrown beak and toenails, and deformed shells.  Once affected, some box turtles may require special calcium supplements, injections of vitamin A, special diets, and assist-feeding until they are doing well.

Syringes - How Much Medication Is Needed?

Pets may be sent home with liquid medications.  An oral liquid medication must be given by mouth to be effective.  An injectable liquid medication must be given by injection beneath the skin to be useful.  Some injectable medications require that the medication is inserted into the muscle to be most effective.  It is important that you understand how to read the syringes that are sent home so your pet gets the proper amount of medication at each dose.

Can My Pet Make Me Sick?

All exotic pets, even ones that appear to be outwardly healthy, have the potential to carry and spread contagious diseases that can impact the health of people.  This sort of disease is called a "zoonosis", "zoonotic disease", or "zoonotic infection". 

Pages