Today we brought Dumbork to her vet. Aside from shell issues, I had some other concerns that needed answers, and hopefully, the vet will address them. We made a custom “travel box” for Dumbork, a recycled box cut in half for easier transportation. We are currently redesigning said box for aesthetic purposes, but over-all, it is a great container that fits Dumbork without her escaping.
The preparations for this vet visit entailed a questionnaire for the vet, a bottle of water for Dumbork in case she gets too dry, her accumulated shed scutes in a small container since most of them are small and flimsy, a plastic container for a quick bath, and well, Dumbork herself.
She seemed to know how important this day was. Aside from some mad tumbling skills when the box got jostled, and her failed escape attempts wherein she scratches her nails silly on the sides of the box, the journey went fine. While walking to the Vet Teaching Hospital, she stayed still, as if thinking, “Hmm. I’ve been here before.”
True, it was almost a year since her first visit. After a Respiratory Infection Scare and almost three rounds of oral medicine, I dare not take too many chances. I registered her at the front desk, almost excited for the questions I want to ask. The hallway was not empty; I saw 3 different kinds of dogs on their leash, and a caged cat, all together with their owners. We were told to wait while getting her records from last year, and when asked, “Dog or cat?” my sister (who joined me in this event), and I simultaneously said, “Turtle”.
We took pictures of the place while waiting. Not much has changed since the last visit, except for the increased number of patients, and the new opened Pet Supply Store. On our right was a caged white cat (I should have asked the breed, but the owner was talking to somebody on her phone). On our right was a –, well, I know it’s a dog, and I have a hint of its breed, but is it just me, or does that dog look abnormally fat?
I can’t keep my eyes off the dog, surreptitiously checking it out while pretending to hold and play with Dumbork. Have you seen those small dogs on the internet, where they are jokingly put on the buns of a hotdog sandwich? Imagine that dog, but make it 3 times fatter. It looks adorable, even though clearly it was sick. Its eyes were watery with a reddish tint, it jumps on every loud sound, and its movements were slow and lethargic. Even though I know that the hospital would be full of sick animals, my heart reaches out to the animals themselves, to their owners who try to do their best to address their disease as early as they can, and to the veterinarians who help these animals as much as they can. By the way, my sister remarked that the cute dog may be a cross-breed of a Beagle and a Chihuahua.
After a few minutes, Dumbork was called, we went to the second examination room, and the check up began. I saw the records of our first vet visit: June 6, 2012, and the succeeding visits. I was able to decipher the notes (doctor’s handwriting), and aside from Respiratory Infection, another term that jumped from the page was “Triangular Carapace”, otherwise known as Pyramiding.
Pyramiding was a turtle owner’s nightmare. Definitely tricky to solve, and the end result would affect the turtle badly. Pyramiding is the event that the scutes on the turtle’s carapace will pile up one after the other due to lack of calcium and insufficient UVB exposure. Good thing Dumbork is still a baby, so hopefully her shell will straighten out with the help of medicine, sunlight, and a whole lot of TLC.
Ah, now the questions began. Here were the concerns regarding Dumbork, and their corresponding answers.
- The bits and pieces of shed scutes leave a white film on the shell, clearly prominent and visible when the shell is dry, what is it?
- The white residue is the start of the replacement shell, as the older shell was removed. It should not spread, as spreading will indicate that it is fungus (which is tricky to remove).
- On nesting and mating
- Turtles, as experienced turtle owners will know, will reproduce even without a mate. These eggs are empty, consisting of a liquid embryo. This egg, in fact, is infertile. (Since Dumbork is still small, I will ask this again three years into the future).
- On addressing the triangular carapace
- The cause of this slight pyramiding in the case of Dumbork is the unequal amounts of protein and vegetable intake. Protein, in the form of pellets, should be equal to the vegetables given. Protein can also come from live prey such as feeder fish. Since calcium was given, a Vitamin D3 supplement was advised to even out the top shell.
Some tips and advices were also doled out by the helpful Dr. Lopez.
- Air dry the grocery-bought vegetables first, to decrease the moisture content, giving off a higher nutrient intake from the said vegetables.
- Aside from lettuce, the native plant Kangkong (water spinach) should also be given as an alternative (costs cheaper than the romaine, red-leaf, and green leaf lettuce).
- Find time for the turtle to bask under the sun, but make sure there is water nearby to prevent overheating and dehydrating.
We also formulated some concerns for the vet to answer in case this happens to Dumbork.
- On removing oil slick from shell and skin that comes from oily, fatty foods: Use hydrogen peroxide and quickly swab it to the areas, rinse thoroughly on running water.
- On getting a companion for the turtle: not advisable since RES are naturally aggressive and will try to hog food at all times. Aggressiveness may also result to fighting and fluttering that may cause cuts and abrasions to the other turtles.
- On healing cuts and bruises: keep off the water as much as possible, as water will further aggravate the wound and will take longer to heal.
- On eating unnecessary things (such as their own eggs): as long as the eggs are empty, it will be fine, since the turtle will soon expel these again.
- Prevent giving foods that are usually consumed by humans (such as cooked rice, viands, meat, pork, chicken, fried fish). It is best to give a turtle food that comes from natural sources such as vegetables.
Finally we were given a prescription for the supplement. It says “Vit ADE for 3 ml” accompanied with the instruction to give 1 drop a day, for 30 days. I haven’t seen the label on the bottle of the vitamin, but I saw Dr. Lopez transfer the viscous yellow liquid into a big syringe, and then he handed me an empty one for spare. He told me to keep the medicine away from heat and sunlight. The said supplement will taste sweet, so it is better to administer it orally, either injected to the food (pellet) or straight to the mouth. Dumbork will have to return after one month to track if there are any changes.
After we paid the bill (Php 300.00 for the consultation fee and the medicine), we journeyed home. We let Dumbork roam around for a while, basking in the late afternoon sun. Finally, relief. Relief that I won’t be one of those owners who didn’t try to help their pets until it’s too late, relief that I won’t find Dumbork not moving the next morning (knock on wood), and relief that I’ve done my best as a turtle owner to try to care for their turtles as much as they can. Hopefully, Dumbork will like this vitamin better than the oral meds she received last year.
Wish us luck! And we’ll update this post after the verdict next month. Cheers!
Disclaimer: Turtle care and health keeping is very much different in our country, so you may be surprised by the information provided by the vet.