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Uploaded:2019-11-07
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We rescued a very old box turtle and a teenage red footed tortoise from improper care. Both have medical issues and will need lots of special care and good husbandry from now on.

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Welcome back to Animal Wonders.

We recently took in two new animals. We got a call asking us to take in a box turtle and a red footed tortoise.

They were said to have come from an experienced reptile keeper, but they both came in sick and malnourished and needed some medical attention to get them back to good health. [CHEERY INTRO MUSIC]. Our first friend is this beautiful female red-footed tortoise who’s said to be in her teens. The previous owner said she was fed only wet cat food for about nine years of her life until he got her, and then he had her for about five years.

So we don’t know her exact age and we don’t have a full history on her, but it didn’t sound very good. During her initial exam, I was mostly concerned with how swollen her eyes looked and how small her nostrils were compared to our other tortoises. She also had a slight rasp when she breathed.

Though the other most obvious issue is her malformed shell, this pyramiding structure to every scute. She’s also quite small for a red-footed tortoise in her teens. For comparison, this is Yucca.

She’s the same species and she’s eleven years old. She’s bigger, has a nicely shaped shell, and the most dramatic difference in her weight. She’s much heavier, which means she has good healthy bone growth, whereas this gal?

She’s just so light. So, since I can’t change the past and how she was cared for previously, all I can do is to make sure she’s given the proper care now. The first thing I wanted our vet to look at was her eyes.

They’re just so swollen. She just kind of looks sick. Our vet confirmed that she does have a respiratory infection, which is causing some of the swelling and the raspy noise when she breathes.

So she prescribed antibiotics which will hopefully knock out the infection, and she can get to feeling better soon. She also prescribed vitamin A eye drops because she’s showing signs of vitamin A deficiency. Our vet also confirmed her nostrils were small, which is due to many years of improper care and poor nutrition, including lack of vitamin A.

Basically what happened to her nose is that the scales and structures in and around her nostrils didn’t grow properly and hardened layer after layer, restricting the airflow. This leaves her vulnerable to respiratory infections in the future, where as a healthy tortoise wouldn’t be affected. So, the next thing I wanted to do for her was to get her moving around in a good environment and start eating some healthy food.

The best option for this was to get her in with our other tortoises where she would be inspired to socialize and be part of the group. So I introduced her to Yucca and Titus. It was so fun seeing her interacting with them.

And after watching Yucca and Titus run over to their food, she immediately made her way over and joined them. It makes me so happy to see her coming out of her shell and getting back on track to living a happy and healthy life. This gorgeous lady will be staying at Animal Wonders, and hopefully when she’s all healed up and feeling good, she’ll make a wonderful ambassador for her species.

Her story will be a good lesson to share with students and the public to help educate about the responsibilities of caring for animals as pets. And why it’s so important to research the newest information on how to properly care for the animal you’re interested in. Our second friend is this male box turtle.

He’s said to be over ninety years old. However, we can only confirm the last two owners had him for about thirty-five years combined. However old he is, he’s been through a lot.

During his first examination, all I noticed was that he had a very overgrown beak and nails. We got him into his temporary habitat so he’d start to settle in and we could start him on a nutritious diet before we did anything more involved. Box turtles are known for being hardy but easily stressed when abruptly changing their environment, so I didn’t want to over stimulate him.

At first he was pretty down and out, didn’t want to move around much, and wasn’t interested in eating. But after a few days, I knew he was feeling more comfortable because he ate a couple mealworms. It was really hard for him to get a good bite, and it was really frustrating to watch him struggle because his beak was just so long.

So, I had two goals. I wanted to get him eating a more varied diet, which will go a long way to getting him back on track to being healthy. And to make that possible, he definitely needed a beak trim.

So we took a Dremel and filed it down to an appropriate size. Now filing a box turtle’s beak is pretty tricky because they have this amazing movable plastron, or bottom half of their shell. When they feel threatened or just want to get away, they tuck their head and feet inside, and they close it on up.

So we were prepared to have a tough time keeping his head out to trim his beak, but it was actually really easy. See, this little guy can’t completely shut his shell. And while that makes it easy to trim his beak, it’s not a good thing overall.

A healthy box turtle should be able to fit inside, and then the bottom lip of their shell should be able to touch the top part there. The reason he can’t shut completely is because his shell is malformed. You can’t really tell until he tries to close up, but then it’s really obvious and you know that he’s had many years of improper care.

His shell is basically under grown, like an adult wearing a kid’s jacket. At this point, there’s nothing I can do to reverse the damage to his shell. It’s permanent.

But now that I know that he didn’t get the care he needed previously, I can be on the lookout for other common issues this causes. Like possible metabolic bone disease, poorly developed immune system, respiratory infections, vitamin A deficiency, and other malformations that aren’t as obvious to see. You can see that his nostrils are quite small, so he likely also has a vitamin A deficiency.

So even though we can’t change what’s happened to him in the past, we can make sure he gets the best care now and for the rest of his life. Mr. Box Turtle is not going to stay with us.

We’ve actually found him a wonderful home as a classroom pet, where he will get the dedication of a wonderful teacher who knows turtle care, and the adoration of many students. We’ll check in on him every couple of weeks, and I’m just so happy that he’s going to be loved and cared for. I’d like to give a shout-out to all of our amazing Patreon supporters who help us continue making videos and sharing our animal adventures.

I’m so grateful to be able to use our experience to educate others who can go on to educate others and expand our reach. It’s all about learning and improving and giving the animals in our lives a good, happy, and healthy life. If you’d like to be involved too, you can become a patron by going to patreon.com/animalwonders and joining our community.

The link is below. Thank you, and I’ll see you next week!