Book Review: The Health Care and Rehabilitation of Tortoises – April 2013

Book Review:

Health Care and Rehabilitation of Turtles and Tortoises, By Amanda Ebenhack

by Jennifer Greene

I picked up this book to better familiarize myself with the necessary care of turtles and tortoises, and to see what the currently accepted practices are when it comes to their husbandry if they’ve become injured or sick.  It is a thicker book at 393 pages, but each page is packed full of excellent and relevant information for a turtle or tortoise keeper.

The book begins with generalized care information, discussing what basics you must know to properly care for your turtle or tortoise throughout its life.  I was pleased to see a section on stress and causes of stress, as well as a section discussing the importance of variety in the diet and other sometimes overlooked aspects of chelonian (or turtle/tortoise) care.  The first part of the book alone makes it worth purchasing for any serious turtle or tortoise keeper – it lists a range of edible plants, how to properly maintain your chelonian’s weight, and has an entire chapter solely dedicated to hydration and dehydration.  That chapter is where the book begins to heavily incorporate aspects of rehabilitation and injured/sick tortoise care, and while the average keeper is extremely unlikely to encounter these situations or issues, it can be helpful to be familiar with what may need to happen if there is ever a problem.

As the book continues, it also discusses in length the various aspects of husbandry integral to housing turtles and tortoises both indoors and outdoors.  I love that the book does not just lump them both into one section, and instead dedicated entire detailed chapters to each method of housing.  Housing chelonians indoors and outdoors does often require very different techniques and methods, so it is important to be aware of what your animals are going to need if you are housing them one way or the other.

The latter half of the book discusses in great detail the numerous potential issues you can run into when caring for your turtle or tortoise.  It begins with common skin and shell infections, and progresses to actual injuries and treatments.  There are also several case studies illustrating treatments and progression of injuries that exemplify the methods being suggested, which can be helpful to the just-starting rehabilitator unsure of the route to take with injured animals.  It then goes on to detail tube feeding, how to create a nutritious and helpful diet for sickly chelonians, abscesses and their removal, and continued on to infectious diseases and more.

Health Care and Rehabilitation of Turtles and Tortoises was an extremely thorough book that I found very informative.  I wouldn’t necessarily call the reading about the diseases and illnesses pleasant, however, I was extremely pleased with the amount of information in the book that was easy to find and easy to understand.  If you are just getting started with turtles and tortoises, or even if you are an experienced keeper, I highly recommend adding this book to your library.  Not only is the basic husbandry information excellent, but you never know when you might have to reference the sections on potential issues!

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