Monday, May 24, 2010

Pet Turtle Care: Your Turtle Source

What Should You Ask Before Buying a Turtle?

Turtles can be bought in pet shops or from breeders. If someone wanted to purchase a turtle, he could go directly to a store, visit the breeders he knows, or even find online sources. But have you ever asked yourself where your pet turtles (and the rest of the turtles in pet shops) come from? Have you ever taken the initiative to find out? Sometimes it helps owners-whether prospective, beginning, or experienced-to know where the turtles come from, to be able to take extra precautions against disease or even illegal trading.

1. Turtles From Their Original Wild Habitats

Wild turtles are caught to be sold to the pet industry. This can be quite an unlucky fate for these turtles. From the very moment they are captured and taken from their natural habitats, stress and fear can cause them terrible consequences. It is not surprising then that some of them die or are injured en route to captivity. In their natural settings, turtles do not follow a fixed time and schedule for their feedings and water consumption. When captured, they may become lazy or listless. This process of capturing and taking turtles from their original environment also affects the population of the turtles in the wild, and may even present damage to their natural habitat. It has been reported that the search for gopher tortoises had unscrupulous turtle collectors wrecking the natural habitats, like rock crevices and bogs, of the animals. These actions can greatly damage the ecosystem as a whole.

2. Ranched Turtles

When wild-caught turtles are raised to a marketable size in captivity, or their eggs or hatchlings sold, we consider them to be "ranched." At least 10% of adult ranched turtles will die from overcrowded conditions, and ranchers will have to resort to making up the balance by taking even more turtles from the wild. Baby red-eared sliders are said to be the biggest number of ranched species raised for export on farms in Louisiana.

3. Captive-bred Turtles

Captive-bred turtles, raised by pet owners or small retailers, are animals caged for a long time, which are then mated with other captive turtles. The eggs they lay are then sold through on-line dealers or pet stores.

4. Turtle Farming

Turtle farming means that the turtles are born in captivity and have had 0% exposure to the natural environment. According to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service studies and reports, a very large percentage of the total turtle importation in the US is almost always of animals seized from their wild habitat.

If you know the source of your pet turtle, the novice owner should go to his veterinarian to have his turtle examined. This is especially true for turtles that initially originate in feral locales. These turtles may carry very serious diseases or illnesses that can be dangerous to you and your loved ones. Remember, turtle ownership should be an enjoyable endeavor for you and your family. It should never place you or your loved ones in danger of compromising your health. You cannot, simply by looking at a turtle, determine if it has an illness or is carrying a disease. Only your veterinarian can tell. This is why it is so important to purchase a turtle from a reputable breeder or store, and to have an independent examination by your veterinarian.