First and foremost: the veterinarian is your best friend and
advisor when it comes to sick turtles. While with experience, you
will be able to diagnose and maybe even treat some minor problems,
the veterinarian knows the big picture, can perform necessary tests,
prescribes medications, warns you of complications, and can make
sense of confusing symptoms.
The best way to keep your veterinarian bills manageable, is to
strive for the best possible husbandry practices; and if your
turtle does get sick, do seek advice and treatment as soon as
possible. Not only will your turtle suffer less, if it gets
treatment early, the treatment is likely to be shorter, simpler,
and therefore less costly.
Of course, it is up to you to decide, whether to treat a sick
turtle in the first place, and if so, whether to doctor on it
yourself, or whether to see an expert. Personally, I believe that
by keeping animals as captives, away from their natural environment,
we also become fully responsible for their well-being.
The prices for visits to the veterinarian vary greatly, and while
a good veterinarian costs money, the best veterinarian is not
always the most expensive one. If you cannot afford to pay for
your turtle to see a veterinarian, but you would like to help your
animal, here are a few suggestions:
(1) Some veterinarians will treat animals at a lower cost, if the
owner clearly has the desire but not the means to help.
(2) Try to find someone in a herp society who has experience with
the condition your turtle experiences. Maybe they can help you
treat the turtle, or they can help you find affordable help.
(3) Use the net, books, and other reptile owners as a resource. The
more you can find out about your turtle's problem before seeing
the veterinarian, the shorter the visit, and the more likely you
can get away with one visit and a follow-up phone call.
(4) Show willingness to administer treatments and medications yourself.
Most veterinarians will be happy to show you how to give injections
or apply medications. That way, your animal will not have to be borded.
(5) Follow all instructions to the dot. This will help your turtle get
well faster, and your bills will be lower.
(6) Once you find a veterinarian you like, establish a good working
relationship. See the same person for all problems. Once a veterinarian
knows you and your animals, it is often possible to get help over the
(7) Many veterinarians have payment plans to help distribute the cost of
expensive treatments over several months.
More on seeing a veterinarian.
* In general, see a good veterinarian that knows about reptiles.
Some are in the yellow pages, or ask your local animal hospital or
Humane Society for a reference to a herp veterinarian. Your local
herpetological society may also be able to help.
* If your turtle gets sick, make sure you are keeping it in a clean
enough environment, feed it the right foods, and keep it warm
enough. These are the primary reasons for turtles getting sick.
Fix the environment, or the turtle will not get better, even with
expensive medication.* Every time you are worried.
If I am worried, I go see a veterinarian for both my and the turtle's sake.
* If you are using home treatment, and the turtle is getting worse.
I usually give anything a few days to a week to get better. If things
stay the same, I go see a veterinarian after that time. If things get
better, I don't see a veterinarian. If things get worse in spite of my
attempts at treatment, I see a veterinarian immediately.
* If your turtle is sick or maybe sick, and you don't know what to do.
As with people, it is much cheaper to treat the beginnings of a problem.
The money you think you are saving by putting off a visit to the doctor,
will be more than used later if you have an advanced disease to deal with.
* If you want to put an animal to sleep.