Turtles & Tortoises For Dummies book cover

Turtles & Tortoises For Dummies

By: Liz Palika Published: 04-07-2020

Your fun guide to selecting, caring, and loving your turtle or tortoise!

Coexisting with a turtle or tortoise may not be a warm and fuzzy experience, but it definitely has its rewards. And with more than 250 species to choose from, you’re bound to find one that’s right for you. Looks-wise, they can range from very plain and unadorned to a brightly colored and embellished with every manner of crest, crown, spike, and dewlap. As for personality, you’d be amazed at how very different they can be, ranging from shy and withdrawn, to outgoing and friendly, to outright aggressive. And when it comes to longevity, well, let’s just say that when you commit to a turtle or tortoise, you’re in it for the long haul. For example, the standard American box turtle can live more than 125 years, a leopard tortoise has a life span of up to 100 years, and an aldabran tortoise can live to be more than 200 years old!

This fun guide will help you choose the perfect turtle or tortoise for your lifestyle and give it the care it needs to thrive. Turtle and tortoise expert Liz Palika provides cl ear, step-by-step instructions on how to:

  • Select the appropriate turtle or tortoise
  • Provide a suitable environment for your new pal
  • Care for a variety of chelonian (turtle and tortoise) species
  • Supply you pet with a satisfying and healthy diet
  • Create an indoor or outdoor home
  • Understand your turtle’s or tortoise’s special needs

Generously illustrated with line drawings and high-quality photographs, Turtles & Tortoises For Dummies covers all the bases. Topics covered include:

  • Deciding whether a turtle or tortoise is right for you
  • Choosing between a turtle and tortoise
  • Who’s Who of turtles and tortoises—a complete guide to dozens of species, where they’re from, what they’re like, and how they are as pets
  • Creating a safe and healthy environment for your pet
  • Recognizing and treating common health problems and finding a good veterinarian to help you care for your chelonian

Turtles & Tortoises For Dummies is your fun guide to selecting, caring for, and sharing your life with a chelonian.


P.S. If you think this book seems familiar, you’re probably right. The Dummies team updated the cover and design to give the book a fresh feel, but the content is the same as the previous release of Turtles and Tortoises For Dummies (9780764553134). The book you see here shouldn’t be considered a new or updated product. But if you’re in the mood to learn something new, check out some of our other books. We’re always writing about new topics!

Articles From Turtles & Tortoises For Dummies

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7 results
Making an Indoor Home for a Terrestrial Turtle or Small Tortoise

Article / Updated 08-22-2018

You can house your terrestrial turtle or tortoise in a number of ways: glass aquariums, commercially designed reptile cages, home-built wooden enclosures, and plastic swimming pools. However, before you decide which type of cage to use, you need to figure out how large it should be. In addition, you need to make the cage escape-proof. Size matters Terrestrial turtles and small tortoises are active. In the wild, they forage for food and like to explore, climb, burrow, and dig in leaf litter. In captivity, their cages (often called terrariums) must allow them some of these same activities. Consider these guidelines for choosing the right size for an enclosure: For terrestrial turtles: Allow each turtle 3 square feet of floor space for each 8 inches of turtle length. For example, if you have an adult box turtle that's 12 inches long, it should have a minimum of 4-1/2 square feet of space to roam. If your turtle is captive-bred, this much space will probably work just fine. However, if your turtle is wild-caught, you may need to supply even more room before your turtle adapts to captivity. For small tortoises: Tortoises need even more room. Small tortoises need a minimum of 3 square yards of floor space for each 12 inches of length. For example, if you have a leopard tortoise that's 12 inches long from nose to tail, you need to supply an enclosure that's 9 feet long x 9 feet wide — in other words, a small bedroom! A 6-inch pancake tortoise, however, can do quite well in an enclosure that's about 4-1/2 feet square or in one that's 2 feet wide x 9 feet long. Choosing the proper materials Most adult tortoises and terrestrial turtles, when housed inside, are kept in either a plastic swimming pool or a homemade enclosure. A plastic children's wading pool works well for many turtles and small tortoises. It's cheap to purchase, easy to replace, and easy to clean. Unfortunately, it does take up floor space — you can't just set it up on the counter! A homemade cage is as good (or bad!) as you are a carpenter. A simple wooden box with four sides and a floor can be a great cage. Be sure to paint or seal a wooden cage with a nontoxic paint or water sealant; otherwise, it will absorb wastes and become dangerous to you and your pet. Housing terrestrial turtles or tortoises in all-glass aquariums isn't a good idea. Because the tanks are see-through all the way around, the turtles are constantly visible and suffer from the stress of being so visible. (Just imagine yourself living in a glass house!) They often beat themselves against the glass, hurting themselves in an attempt to escape. If you do decide to use an all-glass aquarium, cover three sides with paper or cardboard and provide plenty of hiding places. Many commercial reptile cages aren't made specifically for turtles or tortoises. Wire cages aren't suitable because tortoises and terrestrial turtles will either hurt themselves on the wire or tear up the cage. In addition, wire doesn't hold in the heat needed for many tortoise species. Plastic reptile cages, on the other hand, can work for smaller species or hatchlings. These cages are solid; have a molded plastic top, bottom, and three sides (with no seams); and usually include Plexiglas or glass sliding front doors. Plastic reptile cages are easy to heat, easy to clean, and easy on the wallet. However, they're not at all suitable for adult animals of larger species. Preventing a great escape No matter what kind of cage or enclosure you use, it must be escape-proof. Box turtles are wonderfully inventive escape artists! The males, especially, are quite tenacious. Don't assume that your adorable little pet won't climb; given the opportunity, it might! Make sure that the sides of the cage are high enough to prevent escape and are as vertical as possible, with no slanting sides. Don't pile cage furnishings (covered in the following section) along the sides or in the corners. And every cage, even a swimming pool, should have a cover of some kind. Hardware cloth (mesh screening) of 1/2-inch squares works very well. If you're building a wooden enclosure, make the height of the sides twice the length of the turtle. (If your turtle is 6 inches long, for example, the sides should be at least 12 inches high.) Plus, cut a triangular piece of wood for each corner and fasten it at the top of the corner, making a small triangular roof. If the turtle tries to escape by using the corners as a brace, it will be unable to do so. Feel the heat, baby After you decide which type of cage or enclosure you're going to use, you need to decide how you will supply heat. Consider providing more than one source of heat, such as an incandescent light (which provides warmth and a place to bask in the artificial "sunshine") and belly heat — heat underneath your turtle or tortoise. An incandescent light is a good source of heat, and you can position it anywhere you want over the cage to make a hot spot. Test the temperature of this spot by putting a thermometer in the light at a position where your turtle may rest: The temperature should be at least 85 degrees for most terrestrial turtles and even 90 degrees for many tortoises. If you have a glass aquarium, you can use an undercage heater for belly heat. These heaters attach to the bottom of a glass cage, sticking to the glass, and can be positioned at one end of the tank, providing a heat gradient. However, never use one of these heaters on a plastic cage (it will melt or crack the plastic) or a wooden cage (it could start a fire). If you have a plastic or wooden cage, you may want to use a heat rock for belly heat. Bury the heat rock in the substrate so that it doesn't overheat and burn the turtle's or tortoise's lower shell that covers the belly). ( Substrate is the stuff you spread around on the floor, like shredded newspaper, bark, or alfalfa pellets.)

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Turtles and Tortoises For Dummies Cheat Sheet

Cheat Sheet / Updated 03-27-2016

Your shelled pet may not have the warm fuzzies of more ordinary choices, but turtles and tortoises definitely have a cool factor that mammals can’t touch. As the owner of a turtle or tortoise, you enter a world with a whole new vocabulary and a different set of records to keep.

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Monitoring Your Turtle's or Tortoise's Health

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

As your turtle's or tortoise's caretaker, you are ultimately responsible for its good health. You aren't able to hear directly from your turtle or tortoise when it is unwell or has been hurt. In fact, your turtle or tortoise is genetically programmed to hide illnesses and injury, because in the wild, predators prey upon the weak. However, if you set up a regular routine of examining your pet, you can spot problems before they get too serious. And if you select a veterinarian who's knowledgeable about the care and treatment that chelonians require, you'll have someone to turn to if a problem occurs. Finding a veterinarian Not all veterinarians are skilled in treating reptiles. Finding a veterinarian who likes turtles and tortoises and is knowledgeable about their care is vital — it's something you need to do before an emergency happens. Some veterinarians who like working with exotics (including reptiles) advertise that fact in their ads in the Yellow Pages. In addition, if you have friends with turtles or tortoises, they may be able to recommend a vet to you. Local turtle and tortoise clubs also maintain listings of reputable veterinarians. The Association of Reptilian and Amphibian Veterinarians (ARAV) is for veterinarians who have an interest or specialize in working with reptiles. This association may be able to help you find a qualified veterinarian in your area. You can also check out the American Veterinary Medical Association for assistance in finding a qualified reptile vet in your area. There's a difference between a veterinarian who's knowledgeable about reptiles, a vet who likes working with reptiles, and a vet who's actually a specialist. For a veterinarian to be called a specialist, he or she must pass a specialty board in that particular specialty. After you find vet who is experienced, is knowledgeable, and/or specializes in reptiles (or turtles and tortoises), make an appointment to talk to him or her before you have an emergency. Introduce yourself and tell the doctor about your pets and your plans for them. (Are they pets only, or do you plan to breed them?) Ask the vet about his or her policies regarding appointments, emergencies, billing, and so on. A veterinarian is your partner in pet ownership. Having a veterinarian whom you can call not just in emergencies, but whenever you have concerns, will help you take care of your pets in the best way possible. Ask to see the vet's facilities as well. Do you see cages for reptiles with supplemental light and heat, or are reptiles kept in dog and cat cages? Is the hospital equipped to use Isoflourane gas (currently the best anesthesia for reptiles)? Talk to the vet, too, about his or her charges. What do a normal office call and an exam cost, and how much are the most common tests, including fecal tests for internal parasites? In some areas, veterinary charges are as expensive as physicians' charges! Make sure that you can afford this vet's services. Preventing illness Keeping your pet healthy is the best way to prevent illness. Correct caging, heating, lighting, humidity, and nutrition are vital to your pet's overall good health — if you don't deliver even one of these needs, your pet's health can suffer. But preventing illness involves more than that. Keeping your pet's environment clean is also important, and by keeping the environment clean, you can prevent the spread of salmonella — a potential threat to you as well as your pet. Vaccinations aren't yet available for turtles or tortoises, but your pets can live a long life without them. It's up to you to make sure that happens! Maintaining a clean environment In the wild, turtles and tortoises have a home range or territory, but they move around. They don't stay in the same spot day after day after day, and they certainly don't eat anywhere near their feces. In a cage or enclosure, the area where a turtle or tortoise defecates and the area where it eats are pretty close to one another, which can cause significant health problems. Keep the cage or enclosure clean. Scoop feces daily (if not more often) and replace cage substrate (the stuff you put on the floor of the cage) often. Replace water and throw out food that has been soiled with feces, is old, or contains meat. Preventing the spread of salmonella About 20 years ago, selling turtles less than 4 inches long was made illegal. This was the result of many cases of salmonella that were associated with tiny red-eared slider turtles (Trachemys scripta elegans), which were sold everywhere, even at five-and-dime stores. Some of the cases of salmonella (but certainly not all) were probably directly related to the turtles, because turtles can carry salmonella. Of course, salmonella can be carried in other ways, too, including through other animals and feces. People have been infected from improperly refrigerated foods and foods contaminated during processing. Even contaminated water can carry salmonella. However, salmonella can be carried by reptiles and is found in aquatic turtles, box turtles, and iguanas. Don't take salmonella lightly. Although healthy adults can fight off a mild case without showing any significant symptoms, young children, elderly people, and those with suppressed immune systems are at grave risk. The symptoms include cramps, diarrhea, vomiting, bloody stools, and fever. Severe cases may turn into meningitis and encephalitis. If you or someone in your home becomes unexpectedly ill and you have a new turtle, make sure to tell your physician about your turtle! Although many turtles show no signs of illness when carrying salmonella, some turtles with weakened immune systems may become ill from it. Veterinarians can test to see whether a turtle has salmonella, but unfortunately, treatments are rarely effective. Most animals carrying the disease are euthanized, although salmonella is sometimes treatable with antibiotics. You can prevent salmonella infections by keeping cages and enclosures very clean and by picking up leftover food and feces right away. Always dispose of feces in a sealed plastic bag; don't add feces to your backyard compost heap. Wash cage furnishings and dishes someplace other than the kitchen sink. Use bleach when cleaning the cage furnishings and dishes and rinse them well. Always wash your hands thoroughly after handling your pet or touching anything in the cage. And teach other family members, especially kids, to do the same.

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Selecting an Aquatic or Semi-Aquatic Turtle

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

In the wild, aquatic and semi-aquatic turtles live wherever there is a constant source of water, coming out to forage, bask in the sun, or lay eggs. Quick-running rivers, slow, meandering streams, and tiny creeks all support turtles. Swamps, ponds, lakes, and even brackish (salty) marshes have chelonian residents. Aquatic turtles rarely enjoy being handled; in fact, most have a well-developed flight instinct. For these turtles, anything that moves is a potential predator, and they view your hand reaching into the aquarium as a predator attacking. Therefore, aquatic turtles should be viewed as decorative pets, much like tropical fish. Aquatic and semi-aquatic turtles are relatively intelligent and remarkably adaptive, able to cope with many changes in their environment. Habitat loss, however, is something that these remarkable turtles can't deal with. As a result, turtles are becoming quite rare in some areas. In captivity, however, several species of aquatic and semi-aquatic turtles make interesting and rewarding pets. A closer look at species Red-eared sliders (Trachemys scripta elegans) are colorful, hardy, long-lived turtles. The wood turtle (Clemmys insculpta), although not as colorful or striking as the red-eared slider, is, in turtle terms, intelligent and fairly easy to care for. The painted turtle (Chrysemys picta) is an attractive North American turtle that likes to bask in the sun or under a heat lamp. The matamata (Chelus fimbriatus) is an odd-looking side-necked aquatic turtle. This turtle's head looks like a leaf. When startled, instead of pulling its head into its shell, its neck folds sideways, hence the description side-necked turtle. Some aquatic turtles should be kept only by careful, experienced keepers. The various soft-shelled turtles are very different in appearance; instead of a hard, bony shell, these turtles have a leathery shell. This different look attracts many potential owners, but beware! Some soft-shelled turtles, like the Florida softshell (Trionyx ferox), are known for their aggressive nature. These carnivorous turtles bite anything that moves in their tank, including the hands or fingers of their keepers! Most aquatic and semi-aquatic turtles are carnivorous (meat eaters) or omnivorous (eating whatever is available, meat or plants), although not all are as aggressive as the soft-shelled turtles. Most of these turtles eagerly catch and eat fish, scavenge, and eat berries, ripe fruits, and some water plants. As pets, these turtles need fish to catch, commercial turtle food, occasional canned meat, and some berries or fruits. Some species have very particular nutritional needs. Some aquatic turtles aren't good pets. Common snapping turtles (Chelydra serpentina), alligator snapping turtles (Macroclemys temmincki), and big-headed turtles (Platysternon megacephalus) are all unsuitable pets because they bite — and bite hard! The big-headed turtle is also quite an escape artist and an accomplished climber. And alligator snapping turtles can get quite large, making it difficult for even experienced keepers to maintain a clean environment. Considering aquariums Aquatic and semi-aquatic turtles need an aquarium (or other waterproof enclosure) that provides plenty of room for swimming as well as room for the turtle to climb out of the water, dry off, and bask under a heat lamp. One or two small turtles could live in a 20-gallon aquarium sectioned off to provide both environments (water and land). Figure, as a general rule, an 8-inch aquatic or semi-aquatic turtle needs at the smallest a 20-gallon (low and long rather than tall) aquarium. Each added turtle should have an additional 10 gallons. So if you have three 8-inch turtles, the smallest the tank should be is 40 gallons. Most adult turtles eventually need a bigger tank than 20 gallons. Before getting a turtle, prepare for this eventuality. Aquatic turtles rarely enjoy being handled; in fact, most have a well-developed flight instinct. For these turtles, anything that moves is a potential predator, and they view your hand reaching into the aquarium as a predator attacking. Therefore, aquatic turtles should be viewed as decorative pets, much like tropical fish. Filtration systems Aquatic turtles defecate in their swimming water. Because they are carnivores, the water gets dirty quickly. To keep the aquarium clean, keep smells to a minimum, and prevent disease, the water portion of the enclosure or aquarium must be circulated and filtered unless you're prepared to change the water daily. Because few people have that kind of time, a heavy-duty filtration system is a good investment. After you set up the aquarium or enclosure, aquatic turtles don't require a great deal of your time until it's time to clean the aquarium. This may happen every two, three, or four weeks, depending on the size of the tank, how many turtles you have, the size of the turtles, and the efficiency of the filtration system. A filtration system can be expensive. Tell the salesperson what you will be using the system for and how much water (in gallons) you anticipate filtering, and then get the best system you can afford. A cheaper filtration system requires you to clean and change the water more often. Enclosures Setting up an aquatic turtle tank can be somewhat costly, depending on the size of tank you choose. A simple glass aquarium — 20 to 30 gallons in size — runs from $60 to $100, depending on the brand name and whether it has a cover and a light. Because you need a cover and a light, go ahead and get them all when you buy the aquarium. Then you know that they'll fit. For semi-aquatic turtles, most major pet stores carry a kit that enables you to divide the aquarium into two sections: part for water and part for land. As is true with many reptiles, the turtles will probably be much less expensive than their enclosure. You can usually purchase a red-eared slider for $10 to $30, depending on the size of the turtle. The rarer a species of turtle, the more expensive it is.

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Understanding Turtles and Tortoises

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

When you think of turtles, do you think of the tiny quarter or half-dollar-sized turtles that used to be sold in pet stores (and in some places still are)? If so, you're not alone. That image is the one that comes to mind when many people think of turtles. However, those tiny little turtles (most of whom died shortly after their purchase) are only one of many different types of turtles and tortoises, many of which can be long-lived, healthy, hearty pets. So what's the difference? Turtles and tortoises are known as chelonians, from the Greek word for "tortoise," chelona. Chelonian refers to all turtles and tortoises, no matter whether they live in the ocean, in fresh water, or on land. The term turtles applies to chelonians that live in or around water. Sea turtles, for example, never leave the ocean except to lay their eggs. Other turtles are more or less aquatic, depending on their species. The sliders, mud, bog, and leaf turtles are all found close to fresh water. Terrapins are aquatic turtles that people frequently eat. Many terrapins live in and close to brackish salt water. Box turtles are primarily terrestrial (land roving) but are almost always found within walking distance of water. See Figure 1 for an example of a turtle. The term tortoise refers to chelonians that live on land and rarely venture into water except to drink or bathe. Tortoises range in size from tiny little guys weighing less than 1 pound to gigantic, weighing over 600 (or more) pounds. Size aside, tortoises have many things in common. They are primarily herbivores (plant eaters), although many will scavenge, given the chance. Tortoises also usually have hard shells, often with high domes, to help protect against predators. Take a look at Figure 2. Although more than 250 different species of chelonians exist, many are impossible to keep as pets. Think of the size aquarium and the filtration system you would need to keep a 200-pound green sea turtle! However, many species of turtles and tortoises do quite well in captivity and make good pets. Figure 1: A turtle. Figure 1-2: A tortoise. Life in the original mobile home Turtles and tortoises are in the reptile family, which means that they are ectothermic, or cold-blooded. Cold-blooded animals rely on external heat sources, such as warm ground, hot rocks, or sunshine, to warm their bodies. Turtles are the original sun worshippers and can often be found sleeping on rocks or logs, soaking up the sun's rays. Premium shell-ter All turtles and tortoises share a similar characteristic: their shell. No other animal on Earth has a shell quite like this. A turtle's shell is a boxlike exoskeleton (a word that refers to a part of an external skeleton) with the spine and ribs fused to the top shell. These bones are, in fact, a part of the carapace, or top shell. The shell itself is made of bone, and the outer covering of the shell is made of keratin, much like human fingernails. Each shell is made up of sections called scutes. As the turtle grows, new layers of keratin are formed around the outer edges of each scute, looking much like the growth rings of a tree. Some people count each of these rings in an effort to tell how old a turtle may be. This can give only a rough idea, however, because just like a tree, if food is plentiful a turtle may have two growth spurts per year, or in a bad year may grow very little. Also, as a turtle gets older, the shell becomes worn and smooth, and the rings may be difficult to see. Got protection? The type of shell and the degree of protection offered by the shell are based on the turtle's lifestyle and habitat. Sea turtles, for example, have a light, streamlined shell covered by a leathery skin. Freshwater turtles usually have a hard shell, but in some species, it's too small to protect the entire body. Land turtles and tortoises that rely on the shell for protection have a hard, domed shell. Many turtles and tortoises can pull in all four legs and their head so that the shell protects them from predators. When a turtle pulls its head into its shell for protection, its neck either folds to the side or into a vertical S shape, and the skin of its neck bunches up — hence the name turtleneck for shirts and sweaters with bunched-up necks. With many species, the outer skin of the legs is hard, rough, and, in some tortoises, armored, giving the turtle even more protection. The skin on the legs of tortoises is hard, with scales made of keratin protecting it. Some of the keratin scales are quite large and pronounced; on some species, the scales create spurs or spikes that help protect the tortoise from predators and also help desert tortoises retain water. Because aquatic turtles usually dive into water when threatened, their skin is much softer with fewer protective scales. Most turtles and tortoises have five toes (although they sometimes have four or as few as three) with hard nails on the toes. Aquatic turtles have webbing between their toes. Some turtles and tortoises can even close their shell, giving additional protection. Box turtles (hence their name) have a hinge across the bottom shell (the plastron). This hinge can close both front and rear, hiding the turtle completely inside. The muscles holding the shell closed are incredibly tough, and after the hinge is shut, you can't open it without harming the turtle. A type of tortoise can close its shell, too, although not as completely as the box turtle. Hinge-back tortoises have a hinge across the top of their top shell (the carapace) and can close in their back legs, protecting them. Although the shell, made of bone, seems to be the ultimate protection, it is vulnerable. Predators can chew and break the shell. A larger bird of prey can pick up a small turtle and, flying high, drop the turtle on rocks below, breaking the turtle's shell like an egg. The shell can protect a tortoise from a small, fast-moving wildfire, but larger, hotter fires will kill a turtle or tortoise caught in it. Domestic dog, Fido and Fluffy, have been known to treat turtles like chew toys, with disastrous results!

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Words Related to Your Pet Turtle or Tortoise

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

Turtles and tortoises are not your run-of-the-mill pets, and if you choose to add a chelonian (a turtle or tortoise) to your family, you may want to broaden your vocabulary beyond what you need when talking about more, uh, ordinary pets. The terms here are some of the words used in reference to turtles and tortoises: Aquatic turtle: A turtle that spends all or the majority of its time in the water Basking site or basking area: An area for a turtle or tortoise to absorb warmth from sunshine or another heat source Brackish water: Fresh water that receives some salt water from the ocean during high tides, making it more salty than fresh Carapace: The top shell covering the back Carnivore: A meat eater Carrion: Decaying flesh that may be used for food Chelonians: All turtles and tortoises Clutch: A nest of eggs Estivates: Hibernates in summer Hatchlings: Baby turtles or tortoises Herbivore: A plant eater Keel: A ridge in the carapace, usually from front to rear so that it is over or parallels the spine Omnivore: Eats both meat and plants Plastron: The lower shell Scute: A single surface section of the shell; each shell is made up of many scutes with underlying skeletal bone Semi-aquatic turtle: A turtle that spends about half of its time in the water and half of its time on land Semi-terrestrial turtle: A turtle that spends most of its time on land but also goes into the water once in a while Side-necked turtle: When this type of turtle shelters its head, the neck folds to the side but does not disappear into the shell Terrarium: An aquarium or cage that contains live plants, a higher humidity, and no swimming water Terrestrial turtle: A turtle that lives on land but bathes or soaks in water or goes into the water to escape predators Tortoise: A land-based chelonian that can’t swim and only goes into shallow water to drink or soak; a tortoise never voluntarily enters water over its head Vent: Equivalent to an anal opening Vivarium: An aquarium divided into two sections — one for water and one for land

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Records to Keep on Your Turtle or Tortoise

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

Keeping records on your turtle or tortoise is a necessity. Do you remember exactly when you bought your pet? When were those eggs laid? In addition, with so many species protected by law, you need to be able to show where, when, and from whom you got each pet. Records and photographs can also help you identify your pets if one is stolen or escapes. The essential information to keep about your turtle or tortoise includes Name, number, and identification Species common name and Latin name A detailed physical description The date you acquired your pet and from whom Your pet’s age at time of acquisition Write down any other relevant information regarding how and where you acquired your pet and his condition when you got him. Keep track of other pertinent information, including illnesses, injuries, changes in habits, sexual maturity, breeding information, and anything else that’s important to you. Weigh your hatchlings and measure their lengths weekly; weigh and measure adults monthly. Attach up-to-date photographs of your pet to your pet record as well.

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