Tortoises are very discreet reptiles, that we appreciate since a long time as pets. It is not aggressive and is content to go back into its shell if you disturb it. But it does not appreciate handling, and it is more fragile than it seems. How to handle my turtle, which will become my daily companion? Some tips to know…
8 tips to handle it well
It will be necessary to handle your turtle in several cases of figure : to take it out to clean the terrarium, to observe it to verify that all is well, to lead it to the veterinary, to weigh it in period of hibernation… or to make him a small cuckoo from time to time ! Some precautions are to be taken, which it is necessary to know before cohabiting with this sensitive and mysterious animal.
- To take your turtle, take it by the back: the snapping turtle, in particular, could possibly bite you if you take it by the front.
- Support it with your hand: place the flat of your hand under its belly to give it support. This is a very terrestrial animal that needs to maintain contact with the ground, so it will feel more secure.
- Protect its shell: it seems solid, but it is not invulnerable. Whether it is hard or soft (depending on the species), it can even be scratched or fractured, which can lead to infections. Also, its head and legs are fragile.
- Assess the temperature: it is better to handle a turtle when it is warmed by the sun or a heat lamp (the first being always preferable to the second). It will have more energy and be more awake. The sensation of cold limits its interactions with the outside.
- Prevent falls: Do not place your turtle on the edge of a raised surface. She is likely to fall because she may not be able to assess her surroundings correctly.
- Decode its behaviors: some signs can show that it does not want to be disturbed (immobile with the mouth open, hissing, withdrawal in its carapace, attempt to bite).
- Take gloves: on the one hand, the tortoise can urinate when we lift it (be careful not to drop it!); on the other hand, it can be a carrier of diseases transmissible to humans.
- Do not leave it on its back : it does not appreciate to be reversed, and that can involve its death if it suffers from a respiratory infection.
And the caresses ?
The tortoise is not very receptive to cuddles. It is thus not necessarily the judicious choice if one wishes an animal of contact. That said, it is possible, with patience, to establish a contact with it.
It is necessary to approach first from the front, not to frighten it. The turtle must be on a flat surface and close to the ground, to feel safe. Stroke the top of its head, in the middle, while being careful not to touch its eyes or nose. You can also slowly stroke her chin and cheeks. If she lifts her head with her mouth open, don’t insist, she’s not enjoying it! If she doesn’t show any reaction of rejection, you can try to massage her neck.
When you touch its carapace, the tortoise can feel it. It is thus possible to caress it slowly, or to rub it gently with a soft brush (type toothbrush). Your turtle will gradually get used to your presence and to your contact. It associates the human with the food, you can also reward it by an adapted treat when it allows you to caress it.
Mostly gentle and peaceful, the turtle is an animal to handle with care. It is necessary to learn to know it to better take care of it and to be able to establish a communication with it. A real relationship can then be set up, for the happiness of all the family.