All the information listed here is based on my own experience, please carry out your own research before attempting to replicate anything on this site.
One of the objectives of this website is to look both at the highlights and the challenges of keeping exotic pets, and this week I had some serious concerns about the health of one of my Amazon Twist Neck turtles.
These turtles came from a previous owner who had attempted to keep them with another species, presumably Musks. As a result, these shy forest floor chelonians not only lost a few toes, but one also suffered a severe shell injury; the overlaying scutes were completely absent, and the underlying bone could be seen. Since then being purchased by a friend of mine, this shell injury appeared dormant despite the exposed bone, and neither septacaemia or shell rot set in.
I have seen minor shell damage recover quite quickly in other turtle species, whereby new scutes either form over the exposed bone, or a new scute develops slowly underneath, eventually pushing the layer of exposed tissue up to be shed away. This turtle however showed no signs of regrowth, and when giving them a routine check-over yesterday, I discovered this exposed piece of skeleton seemed loose and very fragile.
These turtles are not very keen on being handled and I instinctively opted to dry-dock this specimen to hopefully begin a healing process and allow the bone plates to stay in position. Dry docking is my 'go-to' treatment where shell ailments are concerned, not only does it help the shell dry out and toughen, but also restricts the growth of bacteria and fungus.
After an hour dry docking, imagine my horror when this fiesty Platycephala kicked backwards, and completely dislodged the chunk of exposed shell bone. My heart dropped, expecting to see a raw, very infected wound. In reality, this has to be the strangest recovery of shell I've seen.
All that was left was a big gap in the shell, that reaches up under the next row of scutes in the carapace. Amazingly, there is no damage, no blood, no signs of infection. It looks as though this turtle has completed a rather impressive healing process around the edges of the old bone plate, to the point it is no longer needed or connected, and this area of skeleton was literally shed away.
Obviously I will be watching this turtle closely over the next few weeks to make sure the shell remains healthy. Everyone else in the zoo remains happy and content, my Mata Matas (Chelus fimbriatus) in particular are growing well and showing some vibrant colouration.
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