Library

Reptiles + Care & Wellness

  • The red-eared slider is probably the most popular pet aquatic turtle. If you keep more than one in the same tank, they should have plenty of swimming room and should be of similar size to avoid bullying. The goal is to keep the tank temperature and light cycle constant so that pet turtles do not go into hibernation. Red-eared sliders can be fed a combination of commercially available turtle pellets, small fish, and a variety of vegetables. They should also receive supplemental calcium and a multivitamin. All reptiles can potentially carry Salmonella bacteria in their gastrointestinal tracts and can shed it in their feces. Thoroughly wash your hands after handling your turtle, feeding it, or cleaning its cage. Males are smaller than females. Turtles have a cloaca; feces and urine that accumulates in the cloaca is voided externally to the outside through the vent opening, found on the under surface of the tail. Within 48 hours of your purchase or adoption of a new turtle, your new pet should be examined by a veterinarian familiar with reptiles.

  • Box turtles can make great pets if cared for properly. With proper diet and housing, captive box turtles usually live up to 20 years of age, but some have been reported to live 30-40 years. Most turtles carry Salmonella asymptomatically, in that they do not show signs of illness. Wash your hands thoroughly with disinfectant soap every time after handling, feeding your reptile, or cleaning its cage items to help minimize risks of contracting salmonellosis. Turtles have protective shells that replace many of the bones that other animals have. The shell is covered with bony plates called scutes. Turtles have strong leg and neck muscles that enable them to retract their limbs and head into their shells when they are disturbed or stressed. Turtles have a renal portal blood system. Unlike mammals that excrete urea, box turtles and other reptiles try to conserve water by excreting uric acid. Turtles have a cloaca, which is the common space inside the hind end of the turtle’s body into which the urinary, gastrointestinal, and reproductive systems all empty. Feces and urine that accumulates in the cloaca is voided externally to the outside through the vent opening, found on the under surface of the tail. Within 48 hours of your purchase or adoption of a new turtle, your new pet should be examined by a veterinarian familiar with reptiles. Like all pets, turtles should be examined at least annually and should have their feces tested for parasites at every examination.

  • Telemedicine is the act of practicing medicine from a distance and your appointment will be conducted by a licensed veterinarian. Before your appointment, gather information on your pet’s history and your current concern. Look at a calendar and write down a timeline of your pet’s problems. Be prepared to answer questions that you would normally be asked at an in-person appointment. Write notes to help you remember everything. Most telemedicine appointments involve the use of some type of video chat. Conduct your visit in a quiet area with good lighting and have your pet with you before the call starts. Not all concerns can be addressed through telemedicine. If your veterinarian is unable to arrive at a diagnosis via telemedicine, he or she can help you determine the next step for your pet to ensure that he or she receives optimal care.

  • The Colubridae comprises the largest family of snakes, with over one thousand species. The vast majority are harmless, although they can bite. Some colubrids are small insectivorous species while others can be larger (constrictor snakes such the racer and the indigo snake).

  • While there are many species of pythons and boas, those noted here are among the easiest to keep; however, constrictor snakes, like the very large reticulated python, can be dangerous in the hands of an inexperienced keeper, while others, such as the royal python, can be frustrating because of their long periods of not eating. Therefore, if you are choosing your first pet snake, you may want to go with an easier to keep, relatively smaller snake, such as a rainbow boa.

  • You should try to provide the biggest cage possible. The type of cage you set up must be appropriate for the specific needs of the different species. Smaller species or juvenile snakes often do well in a 10 or 20 gallon aquarium, or even a plastic container (cut small air holes!).

  • Telehealth is a broad term that refers to the use of telecommunications to provide health-related services. Telehealth services can be delivered by a variety of methods including telephone, text messaging, internet chat, and videoconferencing. Teletriage is the act of performing triage remotely, via telephone or internet and helps determine the urgency of your pet’s medical concern. Telemedicine refers to the practice of medicine at a distance. In the context of veterinary medicine, telemedicine refers to a veterinarian formulating a diagnosis and treatment plan for your pet without an in-person examination. Telemedicine is typically only permitted within the context of an existing Veterinarian-Client-Patient Relationship. Given the current COVID-19 pandemic and social/physical distancing requirements however, some federal and local governments have relaxed the requirements surrounding telemedicine.

  • Telemedicine is defined as the act of practicing medicine at a distance. Telemedicine can be offered in a number of different ways: telephone calls, text messaging, online chat, email consultations, and visits conducted through videoconferencing programs. Telemedicine is not appropriate for every concern, such as a pet hit by a car; however, a number of common veterinary complaints can be addressed via telemedicine (e.g., flea allergies, minor limping, mild diarrhea). While it is impossible to perform a complete, comprehensive exam during a telemedicine appointment, in many cases your veterinarian can gather enough information to arrive at a reasonable diagnosis and start treatment. If your veterinarian determines that your pet requires in-person care, your veterinarian can help you determine when and where your pet should be seen and may be able to give you an idea of what to expect during the in-person veterinary visit.

  • Turtles have several unique problems. Understanding these problems will allow you to better care for your pet and minimize future health care issues.

  • Many reptile owners are surprised to learn that all pets, including their reptiles, need an initial visit by a reptile veterinarian and at least an annual checkup. A number of reptile veterinarians actually recommend checkups at least twice a year, to allow for early detection and treatment of potentially life-threatening diseases.