December 16, 2020 Avian and Exotics

Pet Turtles: What You Need to Know

An x-ray of a turtle

Pet Turtles: What You Need to Know

In addition to dogs and cats, the veterinarians at AMC care for amphibians, birds, reptiles and small mammals like hamsters and guinea pigs. In AMC-speak, we call them “Exotic Pets.” Turtles are a common Exotic Pet patient at AMC. In the past year, out Exotic Pet Specialist Veterinarians have seen 79 turtles. Today’s blog post will focus on pet turtles.

Choosing a Turtle as a Pet

A turtle may be a good pet for a family with allergies to cats and dogs, but keep in mind a turtle is a long-term commitment. The oldest turtle in AMC’s medical records was 67 years old at the time of its death. Families adopting a turtle also need to be prepared to provide the right habitat for that turtle. Some require an aquatic habitat with a filtration system. Land turtles need a dry habitat with room for exercise. Each turtle species has its own dietary requirements. When selecting a pet turtle, be sure to investigate the adult size of the turtle species you select to make sure the turtle and its habitat are a good fit for your home as some turtles can grow to sizes larger than cat. While many think a turtle would be a good pet for small children, keep in mind turtles frequently carry Salmonella bacteria. Without thorough hand washing, young children will be at risk for contracting this infection from a pet turtle.

Picking a Name for Your Pet Turtle

Once you decide on a turtle as pet, then it needs a name. Because I can search AMC’s medical records database by species, I can easily find the names of all the turtles seen at AMC. Some of these names are just great. No surprise that many of them are riffs on turtles’ defining anatomic feature, their shell. AMC cares for turtles named Shellsea, Shell Shock, Sheldon and Shelly. Jogger, Pokey, Pokie, Sonic and Speedy clearly reflect a turtle’s reputation for being slow. Another popular theme for turtle names was water: Aqua, Nemo and Neptune. My personal favorite turtle name: Peek-a-boo!

Finding a Doctor for Your Pet Turtle

The Animal Medical Center is a unique veterinary hospital in many ways, and one of them is our Avian and Exotic Pet Service. A Service is a group of doctors focusing on treating certain types of diseases, like Dentistry or Dermatology. In the case of AMC’s Avian and Exotic Pet Service, these doctors focus on treating patients that are not dogs or cats. In special cases, other AMC specialists contribute to the care of turtles, such as our board certified radiologists who supervised and interpreted the turtle x-ray that accompanies this blog post. AMC’s Avian and Exotic Pet Service veterinarians hold a variety of board certifications including the American College of Veterinary Practitioners (Avian) and (Reptile & Amphibian) and the European College of Zoological Medicine (Zoo Health Management). Not all veterinarians will manage a turtle patient. If you are too far from AMC for us to take care of your turtle, the Association of Reptile and Amphibian Veterinarians have a search function on their website to find a veterinarian near you. If you have a different type of bird or other exotic pet, you can search on the American Association of Veterinary Practitioners website.

To learn more about turtles as pets, review AMC’s Pet Turtle Care Sheet.

Tags: exotic pets, turtles,

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