I don’t know if any of you know but I am a huge animal lover. I am one of those people that believe that all living beings have rights – except maybe spiders because they freak me out! But if my man moves them for me then they can live.
I have two pets myself, a beautiful dog who is a cross breed golden retriever/border collie and she is gorgeous. Nina is her name, and she molts fur 365 days a year, but is the cuddliest and kindest animal. She knows when you are sad, and becomes sad when we do not give her her much needed love. She is my breakfast companion and my best friend when I am home alone and need someone to speak to. We go for walks together, we argue over food and closed doors, but we have a lot of love and affection for each other.
I also have a little pet terrapin that was given to me when I turned 23 in July this year. She is named Tao and she is the smallest little thing in the world. She is brave and gutsy and loves jumping off rocks into her huge pool of water underneath her. She swims faster than I could ever swim and loves her food. When she looked me in the eyes in the middle of one of my inspirational rants, I felt she knew exactly what I was saying, and whenever she was in my hands she looked at me and started crawling slowly closer to my face. Tao, the turtle, was wise. They are, after all a symbol of wisdom, and she would have lived beyond her years. Tao, my little darling pet passed away very recently, after little over 3 months of life, and here is her story.
Tao was purchased from a pet shop in St Albans called Hertfordshire Fisheries, where terrapins as small as my little one live in groups of 30 + in a tank with very little nutrition, water, cleanliness and living space. They fight, they fester in their own dirt and they become sick. Tao came home to me with a lesion in one of her feet, her back right paw to be exact, in which is seemed one of her nails/toes had been cut. In my ignorance and hopefulness I assumed it would grow back. She was with me for a few weeks in a good clean environment, plenty of space for her to swim and exercise, yet I was not advised on the proper food to give her at that age. Terrapins are 80% carnivorous when they are very young and require live foods to eat, I was not told any of this and was feeding my little one the usual terrapin veg food in a box. I gave her light and heat in the tank, and was waiting to receive a UVB light which would be more appropriate for her, I had a filter and everything in place and was changing her water every 4 days. She had a basking area out of the water which was quite warm and she was loved, so very loved.
When I noticed that she had stopped being her electric adventurous self, I knew something was off. I had just returned from a short 4 day trip in Paris, and my mother with very specific instructions had been taking care of her. It seemed Tao hadn’t been eating much in two days, and much to my family’s lack of understanding, I took Tao to an exotic veterinary. I told him about the behaviour change, the lack of feeding, I explained that she often jumped and grabbed a hold of these prosthetic seaweeds which I thought had maybe caused the breaking of the nails. The vet looked at me with a lot of sympathy and told me that at this age in their own natural habitat and with all the care in the world they have a 40% chance of survival. In her case she had 20%.
I controlled the flood of tears that was slowly preparing to cascade from my eyes during the appointment, and was told a few more things. It turns out the lesions on the feet were a virus spreading across her body from neglect, fights, infection and mal-nutrition. She developed septicemia and was hemorrhaging from her shell and one of her eyes. She was dying. And he told it was not at my fault. He told me most shop bought terrapins have the same fate, and that most carers don’t even bother bringing them to the vets to see what is wrong. A lot of terrapins perish because of lack of care and concern, as people expect them to just survive when given the wrong treatment. I was devastated and hoped that she might recover, I had gotten the environment right and sometimes I wonder whether the diet would have been enough to get her to a healthy state.
I left Tao in the care of the vet for two days and then rang to see what had happened from Saturday to Monday. The vet informed me that he could not get her to feed or drink water, that he had bombarded her with antibiotics and was not able to see any sign of fight from her. She was dying and suffering, becoming complacent with pain and wanting simply to not feel any further agony. I can tell you now, I was in agony just thinking of it. He told me I had done everything I could and cared for her properly and that not even the diet would have been enough to prevent the blood infection of the septicemia nor the spreading of the infection on her feet which would have eventually prevented her from swimming and being able to climb her rocks and plants due to the pain and swelling. As a final act of love and mercy I requested for her to be put to rest and euthanasia seemed like the right thing to do.
Why am I sharing this with you? Animal neglect in my eyes is a huge issue! Animals, exotic ones especially, who are taken from their natural habitat do not know how to survive without you. A pet is a pet, be it a tarantula or a cat, it is your responsibility to love it and care for it, keep them safe and healthy, be sure they grow and have a full life in the best environment they can. They become a part of your family. Tao was my family for 2 months and was the most loved little terrapin.
I find it disgusting that people retailing these pets don’t give a flying monkey about the health they are kept in. Terrapins are one of the most retailed pets, and also, aside from fish, one of the pets that has the highest rate of deaths. I have made a promise to donate to a save the turtles program, and have signed up to do a save the sea turtles program myself in Costa Rica, in which they can use as much help as needed and you do not need to be an expert. I want to report this store for its treatment of these beautiful animals and I feel like the retailing of turtles and terrapins should stop. The vet I took Tao to, had to build a pond and now houses 4 HUGE turtles, who have grown healthy and looked after, because their families simply gave up on caring for an animal that requires so much to have a good standard of life. I am appalled by this all, saddened by my loss and devastated by the fact that a stunning creature such as Tao did not get to live the long healthy life that she would be typically promised, and have the chance to prosper and grace our lives for many many MANY years.
I want to share with all of you some links on how to care for your terrapin properly:
http://www.terrapin-info.co.uk/ – Everything terrapin is here
These are some links I found very useful when I put together Tao’s tank.
This is a link of where you can find how to help or donate to protect turtles.
And to protect the Costa Rica sea turtles http://costaricaturtles.com/donate/
And finally a link to Hertfordshire Fisheries from where Tao was purchased. Now I have to say, my experience is awful with them and I do not want to see other turtles being treated as such, and therefore will not be keeping a turtle captive again. However, I did not go and purchase Tao, I am relying on my family’s description who purchased her and gave her to me as a surprise, and their attentive ears to have given me facts. As much as my experience has really hurt both myself and my pet, I will be visiting Hertfordshire Fisheries to verify the environment in which the animals are kept, and if it does not meet with my expectations of how reptiles, fish and other animals should be kept, then I will be reporting the store.