Tortoises for animal therapy?

chosen2030

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Does anyone know of any animal therapy programs that utilize tortoises as therapy animals? I work at a residential home for kids with mental health issues and we contract with a foundation that brings in therapy animals (of the warm and furry variety) to work with our kids and they really respond well to them.

Not that smaller tortoises wouldn't have a positive impact too, but I think that sulcatas would be a good option. I would think that their large size would make them more accepting of human contact (following the kids around to be fed is what I'm picturing, perhaps allowing a head scratch occasionally), they have shown to do well in our climate in an outdoor enclosure, there are many rescue sulcatas available, and their long life span is an added bonus.

Also, if anyone knows of any sulcata tortoise rescues in Arizona that would be able to assist me with designing a suitable enclosure that would be extremely helpful too.

Thanks!
 

Cowboy_Ken

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This is something I've kicked around with for awhile. I was mainly thinking of the centering effect of the Sulcata tortoise for folks suffering PTSD but I can see the added benefits you are looking for as well. Seems there is money out there for ex-cons, but our returning men and women heroes get shortchanged. I figure it's likely the same for challenged kids too and the political body excepting that these aren't just bad kids is slow.
 

Yvonne G

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Hi Frank:

Some tortoises are open to being carried around and touched and displayed, and others are not. I don't know of any therapy tortoises.
 

chosen2030

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Hi Frank:

Some tortoises are open to being carried around and touched and displayed, and others are not. I don't know of any therapy tortoises.
I was thinking of older tortoises that would be too big to be carried. I know that the kids could gain a lot just from learning how to care for them.
 

dmmj

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Doesn't some member do this with developmentally disabled people?
 
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Maggie Cummings

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This is something I've kicked around with for awhile. I was mainly thinking of the centering effect of the Sulcata tortoise for folks suffering PTSD but I can see the added benefits you are looking for as well. Seems there is money out there for ex-cons, but our returning men and women heroes get shortchanged. I figure it's likely the same for challenged kids too and the political body excepting that these aren't just bad kids is slow.

Ken, A big Sulcata is no help with PTSD. When the person beats themselves up at night they are asleep. You don't know what happened until you wake up all beaten to s***. You know the trouble I've been in lately. Well, the guy did that thing with the nails for Bob to step on, so I have slept in Bob's shed for 3 nights now. It's darned hard to get all that hay outa your hair:)....My point being, I have a big Sulcata, and smaller species adult tortoises and some 10 box turtles, 5 parakeets and 3 cats, none of that has stopped my PTSD night terrors. I have hurt myself in my sleep twice recently and then that guy tazed me giving me my 13th concussion. So, No I do not believe Sulcata could b therapy animals in the way you mean. But when I'm down and lonely and there's no one else around, I go into the shed with Bob and get on the floor with him, and we talk and he always puts his head on my thigh and listens. At times he has tried to climb up on me, and he was just staring into my eyes, so I just stared back and some sort of communication happened. I spend time with Bob and I don't with the other tortoises as much, all are socialized, but Bob is bonded to me and actually will follow me anywhere, watching me. He always notices when I look out my bedroom window at him, and I'm trying to be sneaky....:) Anyhow, I have PTSD and and having a very hard time with it right now, the biggest problem is most dr know nothing about it. Bob is so bonded with me I worry about when I die, what about his mental state. He's going to live with Kim in Alabama, and she loves her animals, so that part will be good.
If you have PTSD anyone, You should take all the furniture out of your bed room and put foam stuff on the door corners. Leave a TV on all night, and get night lights. There's so much more to it...but I will get off my soap box now...oh wait, sleeping in the shed was quite an experience. I'm waiting for a guy who might cause trouble, and Bob won't go into his sleeping box, he wants to lay in the hay with me. Now I have slept with some dogs (the 2 legged kind) but never a tortoise. I'd swear on a bible that he knew I was upset and was trying to give me comfort. Yeah I know about anthropomorphism, and I am guilty of that, but this thing with Bob was just too real...
OK, I'm going back to Charlotte....
 

Stacy N-B

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I'm wondering if anyone has gotten any new information on therapy tortoises Or something similar. Where someone would benefit from a tortoise in some way.
 

Ink

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I believe that they can't be certified for a true therapy animal due to samilma. I know that they are very calming and fun to watch. I could be wrong.
 

maggie3fan

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I may really be wrong here but it's mainly water turtles that have salmonella, however, I used to take my over 100 lb Sulcata out to crowd gatherings, Petco at Christmas, pictures with Bob $5, with Bob and Santa $10 proceeds to go to Senior Dog rescue. He went out to more places than I want to list here, BUT..Bob would walk around the PetSmart and Petco for about 3 hours, just attracting crowds, oh and he went to different schools, class rooms. I was always so proud of him. But...I could always count on him to poop in all the fun. And, you ain't heard funny, until you've heard a bunch of 6 year old's laughing at tortoise poop. Goodness
But now to the point. Bob was very used to his public appearances, he was in the local newspaper 4 times, on TV 3 times. sometimes I just took him out for the fun of it. But he always pooped and peed. I felt he could hold it, but NO. Any how I could count on it.So, Bob was killed in 2015 and at the beginning of 2020 my sister answered a post here and she told a newbie about Bob and about how he always escaped, (well hell) and headed for the street and up or down he ran away in a hurry. and I'm having trouble describing it, but she said he was not happy on those trips like I thought he was. I totally respect my sister's tortoise advice so I was kinda shocked at what she was saying, and frankly it hurt, but she waited for 5 years before she said what she did.
I believe a therapy animal should have an innate ability of compassion, having the ability to show love and the ability to take being felt up by legions of strange hands and on some events little children would jump on his back and at times he tried to throw kids off with a movement I call the Hootchie Cootshie a violent action side to side to throw somebody off. I think this wave of therapy animals is sorta not valid with me. Dogs I understand, cats too. But tortoises don't give a rats *** about anything that is not food or look like food, and to me whatever animal used for a therapy anything need to at least be calm and get hugged etc. While I do enjoy my tortoises and I do sorta play with them, Tortoises as therapy animals don't work for me...
 

jsheffield

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I've had some tough days recently and watching my Russian Tortoise Chili, listening to him crunch his way through a pile of greens, and feeding him by hand are very therapeutic and calming activities for me.

Having another being to focus your attention on, an undemanding, interesting, and lovely creature, is a welcome addition to my life and home.

If I was still teaching Special Education, I'd totally use Chili in my classroom.

Jamie
 

maggie3fan

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I've had some tough days recently and watching my Russian Tortoise Chili, listening to him crunch his way through a pile of greens, and feeding him by hand are very therapeutic and calming activities for me.

Having another being to focus your attention on, an undemanding, interesting, and lovely creature, is a welcome addition to my life and home.

If I was still teaching Special Education, I'd totally use Chili in my classroom.

Jamie
But you and Chili have a relationship, and you love him. I think Chili could perfectly be therapy for you...BUT... he would not cause the same reaction with me, should you give him to me. I would sit out in the shed on a pile of hay and converse with Bob. I loved him so much it made me cry. I don't get the same feeling or reaction to Mary Knobbins, or Big Sam. Tortoises are not therapy type animals
I had a relationship with Bob but he wouldn't do the same reactions for you. Just my opinion
 

zolasmum

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In the UK wild-caught tortoises were banned - in the 1980s, I think- and very few were bred in the country for a long time. As a result, elderly people have had them as children, but later generations may never even have seen one. We take our 20year old Hermann out with us daily, and when we meet very elderly people, especially those in wheelchairs, or clearly with dementia, we make a point of introducing him to them, if we can. It is amazing how delighted they are to meet him, and their faces light up, remembering their own tortoise from so many years ago. It can be quite emotional for us, too! Zola is very calm and willingly tolerates being touched (with us guarding him very closely, of course) . We have considered taking him for visits to care homes and were in contact with someone who could arrange it, but not, of course, at the moment, because of the virus.
Angie
 

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