|MadSci Network: Zoology|
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 search. 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. Peter ADMIN NOTE: Many turtles carry the Salmonella bacteria (e.g. see here). You should always wash your hands after handling the turtle.
Try the links in the MadSci Library for more information on Zoology.