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Jessi brings on a special guest, Bridget Burns, to help share Titus the tortoise's rescue and rehabilitation story. Bridget is an animal enthusiast and wants to help rescued animals find good homes and live out happy and healthy lives. We love her passion for animals (and her fantastic fox shirt)!

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Hi guys!  We're having a fun week at Animal Wonders because we have a special guest today and we're also celebrating the successful rehabilitation of a new rescued animal.


Bridget is here with us today because she's kind of a big fan of Animal Wonders and you've been following us for a couple years now, right?  

Bridget: Mhmm.

Jessi: Yeah, and do you what to learn as much as you can about animals?

B: Of course!

J: Of course.  So, I just took her on a tour of all the animals and she got to meet almost all of them and see how we take care of them and how they're housed.  What did you think about it all?

B: I think that was pretty cool.

J: It was pretty fun.  While we were visiting the animals, I got to share one of our success stories of one of our newest animals and I'd like to share that story with you now.  Bridget, who is this?

B: This is Titus the red-footed tortoise.

J: We rescued Titus about two months ago and he was in pretty terrible shape.  He was severely malnourished.  He has several open wounds on his legs, and he was infested with worms.  Alright, Bridget, do you wanna hold him?

B: Yes.  

J: Nicely done.  Now, I bet when most people look at him, they might not be able to see that anything is wrong, but I'd like to compare him to a healthy red-footed tortoise so you can really see the difference.  This is Yucca and she's an eight year old female and she's been in our care for pretty much her entire life.  Bridget, what's the biggest difference that you see between these two?

B: Titus's shell is a lot more bumpy.

J: It is.  Look at that.  Exactly.  Now, this is actually a pretty common thing that happens to tortoises that aren't receiving the proper care.  Titus' carapace or top portion of his shell should not be this bumpy.  We call this structure pyramiding and it suggests a couple things.  Poor nutrition, lack of humidity in the environment, and inadequate levels of calcium.  So I could tell at first glance that he wasn't getting the care he needed, and with a little history and a quick physical examination, I learned more.  

Titus is reported to be about ten years old, and his previous owner thought he was female but I can tell he's male, because he has a concave plastron or bottom portion to his shell and he has an extra large tail, compared to Yucca, who we know is a female.  She has a flat plastron and a smaller tail.  Being two years older and also a male should make him larger than Yucca, but as you can see, he's quite a bit smaller.  Bridget, can you do me a favor and switch tortoises with me?

B: Sure. 

J: Alright.  Which one's heavier?  

B: Probably Yucca.

J: Yeah.  Yucca has a thick, well-formed shell, where Titus does not.  The reason that you might not have noticed that Titus' shell is malformed is because improper humidity and lack of calcium are common mistakes, so people are used to seeing it and think it's normal.  Titus' shell will never go back to looking like Yucca's shell, so it's our responsibility to let people know that his shell is not normal so we can begin to reverse the myth that pyramiding is okay.  It's not and it can be prevented if giving proper care from the beginning. 

So I do think it's important to talk about an animal's past and how improper care led to the situation that we're in now, but I also want to celebrate the future, especially because Bridget's here and she wants to go into animal care.  I want to emphasize how incredibly important vet care and proper husbandry are to maintaining a happy and healthy animal, so let's talk about Titus' rescue and recovery story.

We got Titus when his previous owner realized after ten years that he wasn't female and he couldn't have babies so he didn't want him anymore.  Despite giving him a proper environment and offering nutrition food at Animal Wonders, Titus refused to eat for the first two weeks.  We became extra concerned after a visit to the vet, where a fecal exam revealed that he had a severe infestation of worms.  

Parasites can cause dehydration, weakness, and deplete the host of nutrients and since you can't really force a tortoise to take his medicine, Titus was in trouble.  After another week of no eating, we became so concerned that our vet suggested possible surgery to insert a feeding tube.  That way, we could get the much-needed nutrients into him as well as his de-wormer, but before we decided to have surgery done, we wanted to make sure that we exhausted all our other options. 

Instead of just misting him two to three times every day, we began giving him mandatory 30 minute soaks in warm water daily to try and combat the dehydration.  He also spent a minimum of 30 minutes outside every day to get natural sunlight.  We were also hoping this would entice him to eat some fresh dandelion greens, but he continued to refuse all food.  After a week on this schedule, he surprised us and he ate!  Just a few bites, but at least it was something.

Five days later, he ate a whole half a plate of salad.  He continued to eat sporadically over the next month, but in these last ten days, he's eaten every single day.  Titus has now successfully been dewormed and he continues to enjoy soaks and eating and playing outside in the garden.  I'm excited to continue offering him new foods to see what he likes the best.  I think it's strawberries.  That's what he ate first this morning, right?

B: Mhmm.

J: Yeah.  He eats that first every single time, but it's hard to tell because he's actually eating everything I'm giving him now.  I'm excited because Titus is doing so great and he's gonna make an excellent animal ambassador.  Thank you for helping me share Titus' recovery story.  I hope that you had fun meeting all the animals today.

B: And I of course did.

J: Awesome.  When I was Bridget's age, I was inspired by a raptor rehabilitator who came to my school and also a veterinarian who allowed me to volunteer at her clinic.  Having role models who I could identify with and also interact with was integral in helping me embrace my passion for animal rescue and education.  I hope all of you enjoyed meeting Titus today and are as excited as we are about his newfound appetite.  

If you'd like to learn more about animals like Bridget does or meet some more of our animal ambassadors or just enjoy going on an adventure with us every week, subscribe to our YouTube channel AnimalWondersMontana.  If you have any questions for me or Titus or Bridget, leave them in the comments below.  We'll see you next week.  

J&B: Bye. 


Alright, now that we have Kemosabe out, let's answer a couple questions.  First one comes from Chris @Clemmons550.  He asks, how did Kemosabe end up at Animal Wonders?