A C Highfield
It would be nice if every tortoise keeper read, and heeded, the following....
Each year - without fail - we have several incidents of tortoises drowning after falling into garden ponds. Please ensure all ponds are completely secure and that there is no way your tortoise can accidentally fall in.
Tortoises are incredibly good escapees. We know. We've spent many, many hours looking for them after they've got out of places even we thought were totally secure! There is no such thing as too much security. Check all fences, gates and ensure that there are no gaps. Also make sure that there is nothing your tortoise can climb over.
Tortoises, electric wires and basking lamps don't mix. Each year we have had at least one report of tragedy striking following a lamp being knocked over. NEVER use floor standing lamps and NEVER allow combustible substrate anywhere near a basking lamp. Fit appropriately rated fuses and fit a smoke alarm. Ensure all wiring is of good quality and is correctly maintained. BE AWARE of potential fire risks and take precautions to prevent the problem.
Be especially careful when allowing workmen or contractors onto your premises. Do not put tortoises where they can be seen from the road, or from alleys. Several members had the distressing experience of having animals stolen last year. Review your security and do everything possible to make sure that your animals are not next. If the worst does happen, contact us for advice. It also pays to have a set of good quality photographs of all your animals. This can make proving ownership of any recovered animals very much easier.
We know we might upset some people by saying this, but we are not generally very happy about allowing dogs and tortoises to mix. Some may be perfectly safe. Others most definitely are not, and unfortunately, you can never be 100% certain which category a dog falls into. Last year we encountered several horriffic incidents where tortoises were killed outright or so severely maimed by pet dogs that they had to be destroyed. It is our considered view that if you allow tortoises and dogs to mix, then there is a definite element of risk. If a dog has proved agressive to tortoises in the past, then there is no way you should keep both. Either the dog or the tortoises should go.
Rats, Racoons, Hedgehogs, Badgers, and Foxes
All of the above have attacked tortoises and have caused serious injury or death.
Please do not use slug pellets! They kill not only tortoises but also birds and many other 'friendly' animals. Some plants are also dangerous to tortoises. A full list is supplied in our 'Feeding Manual'.
Contagious or Infectious Diseases
Be aware that there are a number of highly contagious/infectious diseases in circulation. These range from the dreaded 'RNS' to viral hepatitis and stomatitis. Some animals which are carriers may themselves be entirely free of symptoms and may appear perfectly healthy. It is, in our view, extremely dangerous to attend events such as mass "weigh-ins" as disease controls are rarely adequate. Tortoise club meetings where animals are present are also risky. If you "holiday home" a tortoise, please keep it entirely separate. These problems are greatly magnified when people allow different species or tortoises from different geographical origins to mix with each other. We have been warning about these dangers for years, now, at last it is becoming widely accepted that our warnings (originally attacked as 'scaremongering') were fully justified. A number of causal organisms have now been identifed and all are extremely unpleasant. Prevention is much better than cure. In fact, cure is impossible in many instances and the result is a dead tortoise. In some cases, your entire collection could end up that way.... be careful!