Thursday, November 4, 2010

In Bed with Donatello...

This happened a like 3 months ago but I thought I would share this with you all.

Young lady calls for an emergency appointment for her turtle; was on the point of packing up and going home but the distressed voice and the fact that she had desperately tried to get hold of a vet who deals with exotics made me change my mind and wait for her (she phoned La Vanille Croc Parc several times and they finally gave her my number)
Lady walks in with a gorgeous red-eared Terrapin; must say, one of the biggest and nicest one I've seen. When asked what was the problem she said that there was a black "jelly-like" stuff coming in and out of the animal's vent. Overturned Donatello and showed me the "stuff"...
Oh! Umm..Uneasy moment...!
Here I am with a young innocent girl showing me her Turtle with a penis out beneath it's tail! So I started to say..."You need not worry, its his "organ" that is out; doesn't look infected nor bruised and I'll fix that immediately" then I got" What organ Doc?" I'm nearly whispering now: "His reproductive organ"...and she goes:"Huh! So that's what a Turtle penis looks like? Yuuuk!"
So much for me for taking gloves and avoiding saying the word "Penis"!!!
Then I learnt that this is a super naughty little Ninja Turtle...doesn't want to stay in his water tank; creeps out at night to come in the girl's bed! Now that's what I call naughty!

Ok! back to prolapsed "organs"! Turtles(and land tortoises) often "flick" their penises out but it usually retracts in pretty easily. However, if it gets bruised (more often bitten by other turtle friends in the tank) then infection will follow and your animal may even die! In Donatello's case, a few dabs with hypertonic solution (salt and water) made it retract back easily. Sometimes you can even put sugar powder or honey on it to help if regress back inside.

In my vet life, I have seen so many of these little turtles being kept in horrid conditions; in small inappropriate containers with not even space to swim and sometimes no elevated dry mound for the animal to rest.
Despite being very aquatic, a turtle needs a dry area to climb onto and rest; and the depth of the water should allow the animal to swim and turn a guide use this formula:
Depth = 3 x Diameter of the animal.
Terrapins will spend a lot of time in the water but will lay eggs...outside of the water;so provide a mound of gravel if you a breeding pair and DO NOT move the eggs, embryos are in a fixed position and will die if egg is "upside down"
I could not let the girl go away without warning her about one important thing: 90% of all reptiles are natural carriers of....Salmonella! i.e. they are not sick with that bacteria but carry it and pass it on to humans. That makes it the last thing you would want to give to a child as a gift...and yet how many pet shops here in Mauritius sell those little cuties to kids without telling them the required precautions to take.
So if you have reptiles at home, do wash your hands thoroughly after you've handled them...and no kissing in case they sneak into your bed at night!

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