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By Nadine Gill

 We recently received an upsetting report from a member regarding the death of his two 2 1/2 year old sulcatas after having been given an injection of the wormer Albendazole for the treatment of round worms. Worms had been observed in one tortoise, and the decision was made to treat both. After six hours they began vomiting and died.

This tragic case underlines the need for owners to exercise extreme caution when using veterinarians who may be totally unfamiliar with treating tortoises. In this case, Albendazole may be used safely when given orally, but is not intended for use via injection. We also regularly receive reports of fatalities where vets have injected tortoises with Ivermectin (Ivomec). It is well-known that this particular drug, which is widely used in many other animals with complete safety, has an almost 100% fatality rate in chelonia; despite this being widely publicized, some vets do not appear to be aware of this. Other drugs which can be problematic include Piperazine (used in dog wormers) and Levamisole.

We urge all owners to check carefully that your veterinarian is familiar with treating tortoises, and if in doubt as to any proposed treatment, please do seek a second opinion. In particular, be very cautious if a vet insists on using injectable wormers there is rarely any need for these. Oral worming solutions are the method of choice in 99% of cases.

Although you may get compensation if a vet uses a dangerous product or method, this will not bring your tortoises back. As always, we recommend using vets who genuinely do have specialist knowledge and experience when seeking veterinary treatment for exotic animals.

We offer our condolences to the member who lost their much-loved pets in this tragic and unnecessary incident.