MadSci Network: Zoology

Re: Why won't my sun turtle that I found eat?

Date: Tue May 4 01:41:41 2004
Posted By: Peter Gaul, Grad student, OHS & Environmental Management, company - non educational
Area of science: Zoology
ID: 1083510089.Zo

Hi Sam,

I am told that i am the closest thing to a turtle expert that we have at 
MadSci, which means you may be in trouble.  My background is 
environmental science.  I will help as much as i can however.

Firstly I am concerned by the word Turtle as (according to the 
literature) different countries use turtle and tortoise differently or 
interchangably.  I am in Australia and am assuming that you are using 
water turtle to describe the animal that is amphibious and has webbed 
feet for swimming.

Without having much knowledge specifically in turtles i can give you a 
couple of insights into the problems all animals have in captivity.

a) Stress can cause animals to act strangely or unhealthily.  This, 
dependant on the species and animal could be such things as aggression, 
fear, sickness and even refusing to eat.  This stress can be caused by 
the change in environment, the sudden interaction with these human 
animals that the turtle has not been with before or even the reduced "in 
water" time etc.

b) Some animals (particularly those that are not used to humans) may 
refuse to take food.  This may be because it has a human scent on it, 
because there is no chase, capture, kill or even because it is simply not 
the food they would choose.  While you may think that this issue would 
relate to the large predatory animals it is not always the case.  An 
example is Koalas here in Australia.  They do not eat just any old 
eucalyptus leaf.

As I have stated I know little (zip) about Sun Turtles however my first 
port of call would be to check out the net (you have obviously already 
done this to some extent). But keep looking, e.g. see this

Also find some of the more exotic pet shops (that stock snakes, lizards, 
spiders etc) and ask the guy behind the counter for help.  You'd be 
surprised the expertise they have.

Try your local animal reserve, zoo or the like.  I am sure there are 
experts there that can help.

Failing that, talk to a vet.

If you find that maintenance of the little fella is pretty tough to meet 
that it is probably not a "pet" species and possibly consider getting 
back his strength and setting him free.  I am sure you can replace him 
with a more hardy and people friendly species from a pet store.  That way 
everyone wins.

I'm sure i was of little help so best of luck.


ADMIN NOTE:  Many turtles carry the Salmonella bacteria (e.g. see here).  You should
always wash your hands after handling the turtle.

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