5 Year Member
- Nov 12, 2013
- Location (City and/or State)
- Los Angeles, CA
We ended up moving in together and moved out of Los Angeles about 4 years to buy a house since his great grandfather passed away in 06 and his great grandmother was ailing from dementia. He wanted her to live in a house for the remainder of her life. He bought Little Shell a 120 gallon tank for the new house. He had a plastic cave, those water bowl ramp, and using reptobark or alfalfa pellets. It's been like that since about a week ago. No heating, no uva/uvb light ever. The only light he got was from natural shaded lighting from outside when he lived in the balcony. His grandmother couldn't take care of Little Shell any longer. The tank was too tall, so she couldn't reach in there. She would just talk to him through the glass. It was really sad seeing this because he would follow her around in the apartment even after she would feed him. She ended up passing away last year from Dementia.
This is his tank:
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We ended up selling the house and moving back to LA this year. We moved into our new place a couple of months ago. Little Shell was still in tank with no lighting and heating. I'm mentioning the lighting again because what I'm going into next is very difficult and why people should educate themselves first before buying/adopting any animal.
Little Shell's bottom jaw ended up overlapping the top of his beak. It was hard for him to eat. He was very lethargic and dirty . I nagged my boyfriend and told him it wasn't normal. This caused a lot of arguments and fights because it was his turtle and knows him best since Little Shell has always been very hardy and never been sick it was difficult to argue with. Also there's a lot of conflicting information about the lifespan of a Chinese Box Turtle. Some say they live 25, others say they live 40+ years. So my boyfriend assumed that he was old, dying or about to hibernate.. I had just about had it him overlooking Little Shell so I took charge. I started looking things up and reading about Metabolic Bone Disease. The overlapping of the bottom jaw is one of the signs so I started getting really worried.
This is Little Shell and his jaw
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I started reading about his species and started changing his diet. Adding more vegetables, greens, and better fruit. I noticed he was becoming a bit more active.
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We ended up taking him to the vet and I was so happy we did because she pretty much confirmed that he did look bad. His shell also has a mild deformity of under developing from lack of nutrition and lighting. She said he still has a chance of getting MBD but being outside in the shaded balcony most of his life saved him from getting any worse. They also trimmed his beak and said the sides of his mouth were a bit deformed. He got a clean bill of health. We took him for a follow up. He gained weight and has no parasites.
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I started buying things for his enclosure. It's really nerve wracking waiting for things to arrive and later finding out the stuff you bought isn't good. It's all been trial and error. I took out the reptobark and put in a mixture of coco fiber, cypress mulch, peat moss, and in some sections sphagnum moss. Bought him a log, a soaking area, and some decor. He hasn't tried to climb the sides of the soaking area. I've been keeping an eye on it. I'm still working on his enclosure. I wanted to get a table for him but my boyfriend and I argue forever on this. He won't give up the tank because it was over $600 and it was recommended by petsmart.
I'm far from finished with it.
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I got him some lighting, and heating. The lighting I'm using is a reptisun 5.0 with a random fish fixture from a local animal place. The guy asked me if it was for a terrarium or aquarium and I didn't know at the time what he meant so I said aquarium ><; so he gave me that and wouldn't refund it after so I'm stuck with it. This is one of the things that I am having trouble with. I don't know how to mount the fixture in the center or inside the tank so it's closer to the ground. The vet said it's too far. I'd like to have the light in the center but there's no way. The tops are covered with glass lids except for one that fell and broke on him inside the tank. He was okay just spooked and angry. There are no mesh lids in stores or online that are that size. I replaced one of the glass covers with an oven grid...lol. It's been working out so far. It just looks really ugly. I also accidentally bought a spot bulb and found out later that he might not like the bright light and it doesn't heat up the whole tank. I ordered him a CHE 100w. I didn't know which wattage to get because of conflicting information that Flavo's may not like it too hot and the tank is so big. I'm just glad we live in Cali or he might have died a long time ago and we would've thought it was just because of old age.
I also tried planting and failed due to me not knowing that I needed rocks or clay underneath for aeration. So the plants were drowning. I removed them and they're recuperating. I'll add them again once I change out the substrate in a few months.
I'm secretly trying to get him an outdoor enclosure without my boyfriend knowing until it's too late. The thing is I have 0 carpentry skills. So the only option for me is to buy something semi built, or already built. Like a large animal cage made for small animals, bookcase, or raised bed. The only thing is I would have to sit out there with him with the bookcase or raised bed because I don't know how to build a lid to make it predator proof. Sad I know I'm THAT bad. We also live in a rented duplex with no backyard and a groomed front yard that I'm not allowed to touch. So there's very limited space. This is temporary. We are moving in about 2 years.
A little about Little Shell's personality. He is basically a fighter, very curious, perceptive and silly. I've read that Chinese Box Turtles are shy but this guy is far from it. Whenever he sees the camera he goes up to it. He loves when I wear bright colors and when I dyed my hair raspberry red he was very curious. He's a big ham. He doesn't like his greens but I've cut them fine enough to where if he wants his papaya he has to eat his greens. The vet said to keep giving him bananas even though they're bad and slowly ween him off because he will go on a hunger strike. I started adding in different fruits along with the banana to see what he likes. Eventually I took out the banana completely from his diet. My boyfriend will sometimes drop a piece of banana in there though >_>;. Little Shell is very stubborn and won't just eat his greens without fruit. He also likes to fight. He will fight with random things like shoes, dogs, and rocks. I don't know why. I might show a vid of it later on. He also loves climbing and when I added the coco fiber he fell in love with it and buried himself it. Whenever he sees me he comes running even if he's not hungry just to see what I'm up to. I take him outside every other day for a few hours so he can get some exercise supervised of course.
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I'm currently gardening some vegetables and greens in boxed planters. I'm looking to purchase some grasses and weeds from Carolina Pet Supply & Tortoise Supply.
Btw, My name is Lei. People just call me Meow or Leia because of my online gaming name has Meow in it. Also, I was a little discouraged to take Little Shell on because....................... when I was 3 my uncle gave a red eared slider baby he got from a swap meet. He just said it was a water turtle. I didn't know how to take care of it so it died. I carried it around for weeks after in it's plastic kritter carrier until my parents took it away. I was waiting for it to wake up until it started decomposing. That's when I found out about death. It's been eating me away ever since. My dream turtle is a Red Foot. But I'm still scared of owning a tortoise. I don't think I'd be good of taking care of it.
Some advice to new tortoise/turtle owners. This has all been a learning experience for me. And I just want to share some things I've learned along the way. I'm still learning and adjusting. Do your homework before you purchase things. We can easily look things up now . Don't just assume. Your pets life is at risk. Know what space you have. Think about how you will accommodate your pet as it grows. Know what species you have. A lot of people just give up and give their pets away when they get too big or they get bored with it. Also don't depend on pet store workers. They're just workers and a lot of them don't even know anything about animals. They are trained to sell you a product. Talk to people who have been breeding and have had success. Or read their care sheets. They know what they're talking about. And they've probably made some mistakes along the way so they will know what you should avoid. You may not like the criticism (Trust me I know it sucks) you will get but it isn't about you. You should listen. They are the best advice you will get.
To all happy Chelonians
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