Urgent Care :: Advice needed on sick turtle at Petsmart

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Post Posted: Tue Oct 27, 2015 6:42 pm   Advice needed on sick turtle at Petsmart

I spoke to an employee at this Petsmart today about a turtle that has been there the last couple of months, is severely poorly kept, and resultantly has become increasingly lethargic and ill:

  • She's a beautiful African Sideneck Turtle
  • She's grossly overweight and bloated, and has food floating everywhere in her tank (clogged in the filters, forming piles on the bottom and in the corners at the top of the water)
  • Said tank is probably only ~15 gallons in dimension, with only about a third of it filled with grimy water... maybe 5-6 inches high
  • No heater appears to be present, although the water is probably heated before being pumped into the tank (I hope)
  • I confirmed with the employee - for the whole time they've had this girl they didn't have UVB bulbs in the aquarium! They are putting UVA/UVB/Heat lamps in now.
  • (See above) She's not eating now, and is incredibly despondent. Apparently many of the guests have mistaken her for having passed away already, as she hardly moves now.
  • She has a dark blotch on the top of her head, and likely some shell rot as well.
I apologize if I'm posting at the wrong place - please feel free to redirect me. Some advice would be greatly appreciated in terms of how to proceed from here (rescue organizations near me, etc.). My wife and I are incredibly tempted to adopt her, but it would probably be close to a grand when all said and done, and so we likely don't have it in our budget to do at this time. We are still considering it though... almost anything would be better than her current setup.

Any advice would be appreciated. Again, this turtle is located in Plymouth, Minnesota. If anyone is in the area, or knows anyone in the area, I would be happy to purchase her on your/their behalf and deliver her if it means better care.

Also, if you care for a Sideneck yourself, let me know if you have any tips on keeping them, on the off-chance that my wife and I decide to get her. I have a Western Painted Turtle at present, so that is my only frame of reference turtle-wise. I understand this girl would need her own tank.

Here is a picture of her:
Image

I live right near this store, and so I am in all the time visiting the kitties with my wife. I will post any updates if I have them.

Thank you,
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turtlenojutsu
 
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Post Posted: Tue Oct 27, 2015 7:44 pm   Re: Advice needed on sick turtle at Petsmart

I guess there are two paths to take. The first being what you described, though it would be difficult and expensive. Perhaps a local rescue can be rallied to take her in.

The second would be to pressure them to take responsibility. Maybe you can be nice and go to management or go directly to their corporate communications office. Demand details and updates. They should be associated with a local vet, it really shouldn't have to come to this.
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Post Posted: Fri Oct 30, 2015 1:38 am   Re: Advice needed on sick turtle at Petsmart

steve wrote:I guess there are two paths to take. The first being what you described, though it would be difficult and expensive. Perhaps a local rescue can be rallied to take her in.

The second would be to pressure them to take responsibility. Maybe you can be nice and go to management or go directly to their corporate communications office. Demand details and updates. They should be associated with a local vet, it really shouldn't have to come to this.


Thank you for the prompt reply, Steve, as always. I have reached out to PetSmart in an effort to rectify this situation. I have provided them a link to this forum post for details, on the off-chance that my inquiry actually catches someone's attention over there. I also went in and gave my name and number to the manager working today in the context of this girl... my wife and I are talking more about adopting her, regardless of financial concerns.

Will post updates when I have them.

Take care.
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Post Posted: Fri Oct 30, 2015 8:49 am   Re: Advice needed on sick turtle at Petsmart

I applaud your efforts, good luck Derek!
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steve
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Post Posted: Fri Oct 30, 2015 6:48 pm   Re: Advice needed on sick turtle at Petsmart

If you adopt it, be sure to ask if they have some kind of return policy if things take a bad turn. I've never bought a Petsmart animal, so I have no idea what their rules are.

That being said, sometimes the only way to prevent these issues is (as hard as it sounds) for good men to do nothing. The store folks don't care whether they're selling animals for the sake of kind people's pity, or a kid who just wants that first reptile. They only see the "adoption fee". If people stop (unintentionally) supporting the business by purchasing mistreated animals, then the management will see that the animals are not making enough money to justify ordering them. I have seen this kind of positive trend at my own local "big box" pet stores, especially Petsmart.

I didn't mean to sound pessimistic--I've just seen this very frustrating cycle occur too many times, with too many different animals. Thank you for your dedication to this turtle's health!
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Post Posted: Sat Oct 31, 2015 4:19 pm   Re: Advice needed on sick turtle at Petsmart

Jeremiah wrote:If you adopt it, be sure to ask if they have some kind of return policy if things take a bad turn. I've never bought a Petsmart animal, so I have no idea what their rules are.

That being said, sometimes the only way to prevent these issues is (as hard as it sounds) for good men to do nothing. The store folks don't care whether they're selling animals for the sake of kind people's pity, or a kid who just wants that first reptile. They only see the "adoption fee". If people stop (unintentionally) supporting the business by purchasing mistreated animals, then the management will see that the animals are not making enough money to justify ordering them. I have seen this kind of positive trend at my own local "big box" pet stores, especially Petsmart.

I didn't mean to sound pessimistic--I've just seen this very frustrating cycle occur too many times, with too many different animals. Thank you for your dedication to this turtle's health!


No worries at all - I appreciate the additional viewpoint. I recognize this side of things too, and that I am creating demand as a side effect of my purchase. It's a hard thing to weigh ethically, that much is for sure. Right now all I see though is a suffering animal, and so my gut tells me to act on it. Perhaps I can have my cake and eat it too if PetSmart foots the bill for her.
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Post Posted: Mon Nov 02, 2015 2:34 am   Re: Advice needed on sick turtle at Petsmart

A brief update - I adopted our Sideneck friend today. My wife named her "Winnie".

PetSmart did not charge me for her... but I did end up spending over $450 in supplies (and counting). :( She's in a 75 gallon tank with heated water, and UVA/Heat/UVB bulbs. I also got her a slate log, which she seems to love hiding in/peering out of at me. The filter is on its way from Amazon... I asked that the shipping be expedited (it's an Eheim Classic). I'll be putting in aquarium sand and building a better basking area later this week, which I am sure she'll love.

Even after a few hours basking (the lamps are about 15" away from the basking area at the moment... I hope that is OK), she seems to be doing a little better. She's not very active still, but I think part of that at least is nerves around people. The first thing she did when I brought her home and left her alone was escape! I had left the house for a short time to run errands before I put in her in her tank (I was waiting for the water to warm up). She took that opportunity, after hours of playing possum around me, to tip over her carrier box, open it up, make her way across the room, and hide under my TV stand. She nearly gave me a heart-attack when I saw the empty box. She was safe and sound though when I found her - no harm done.

Aside from her shyness, she seems to be a very gentle creature, and very inquisitive (she's staring at me right now from under her log... probably trying to figure out what I am, ha).

If anyone has any advice for me on what my next steps should be, please let me know. She's very bloated and has a dark blotch on her head (it might just be algae?), but other than that she actually looks healthier than I thought. What wonders a new/better environment can do!

I am also considering a trip to the vet... but I am not sure it is warranted at this point in time. Please offer your thoughts.

I know next to nothing about Sidenecks in particular either, unfortunately. Any tips? One small tidbit I read is that they need/prefer some sort of light/heat source at night? I also have read that they are not very good swimmers - and so the water should be less than a foot in depth (confirm?). I will also need help in identifying her genus species... I believe she was advertised at the store as West African, but I am not sure if she is West or East. Needless to say, I have a lot more reading to do in the next few days.

I've also noticed, just from watching videos and the like, that their dispositions (healthy or not) seem to be very different than a Western Painted (my other turtle) or a RES. My Painted turtle is kind of a spaz, lol, constantly swimming and socializing. Whereas these Sidenecks generally seem to stick in one place and not dart around quite as much.

A third, disparate question, but any thoughts on life-span? I've read upwards of 50 years in captivity... that'd be wonderful if true, but I have my doubts.

Thanks, all, for the support and the feedback. This site rocks, Steve. I am sure it has benefited countless people and turtles alike.

P.S. When I have her set-up more finalized, I will take some pictures and post them on here. :)
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Post Posted: Mon Nov 02, 2015 11:57 am   Re: Advice needed on sick turtle at Petsmart

The bloated issue could be a problem. I don't know much about ASN, be it could be from simple overfeeding or the start of organ failure. If you have a regular herp vet you go to, you might want to get their opinion or just wait it out and assess the condition yourself.

They shed skin but don't shed scutes. You're still looking at a large tank. They're not as good swimmers as RES but I think are more than capable.

This site will give you some good insight about them: http://www.pelomedusa.com/

Several members have them, but people more or less have moved away from forums. I can send her a PM and see if she can chip in :)
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steve
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Post Posted: Mon Nov 02, 2015 12:12 pm   Re: Advice needed on sick turtle at Petsmart

Can't wait to see the pictures. I'm glad you were able to rescue her.
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Post Posted: Mon Nov 02, 2015 8:55 pm   Re: Advice needed on sick turtle at Petsmart

iEzTech wrote:Can't wait to see the pictures. I'm glad you were able to rescue her.


I'll be uploading pics in a bit. :) btw, I love your turtles' names! My wife and I love Avatar and The Legend of Korra.
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Post Posted: Mon Nov 02, 2015 9:21 pm   Re: Advice needed on sick turtle at Petsmart

Here are some pictures of Winnie... I hope we can get her well soon. Notice the bloat and the gunk on her head (regarding the latter, I wanted to get it off but she won't let me at her head). She also has a couple of small nicks on her carapace. Please offer your thoughts and suggestions. Please also note that the set-up is far from finalized. Thanks in advance!

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Post Posted: Tue Nov 03, 2015 12:18 am   Re: Advice needed on sick turtle at Petsmart

Cleaned/added the first bag of sand to her tank. Holy cow these guys like to dig! :)
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Post Posted: Tue Nov 03, 2015 1:25 am   Re: Advice needed on sick turtle at Petsmart

She is beautiful!
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Post Posted: Tue Nov 03, 2015 2:33 am   Re: Advice needed on sick turtle at Petsmart

HelperTurtle123 wrote:She is beautiful!


Thanks! :) My wife and I are growing very fond of her.
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Post Posted: Tue Nov 03, 2015 6:04 am   Re: Advice needed on sick turtle at Petsmart

Very nice! She looks so shy in the pics and is like "why can't I hide in my shell".

I do see the bloated issue clearly now. It's probably a bit more that what I would feel comfortable with, so I think I stand by my previous suggestion. Other aspects of her look pretty good.
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