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Turtles/Jack the 3 toed box turtle


We've had Jack, a 3 toed box turtle for 23 years, since he was a hatchling. He lives in a large aquariaum with reptile carpet, a house, rock, water dish, food, and 2 mirrors. He likes to run around the house when the heat is turned on but last winter he developed Pneumonia. Exotic Pets put him on 2 weeks of shot antibiotics, which we gave him at home and we thought he was better when the shots were done, but months later we took him to another exotic vet, closer to home, because he was still not himself and we learned his pneumonia had become life threatening. Turtles hide their problems well. We then went through several months of daily shots, still at home, and again they said he was fine, based on multiple X-rays and CBCs throughout. We took him back to the vet 30 days later because he still wasn't acting right, and they said his pneumonia had flared again and they started him back on shots, this time one shot every three days at the office, plus periodic shots and a daily oral med for 5 days on-3 weeks off-5 days on, in case it was a parasitical pneumonia. It's been a few weeks now since his last shot and we will be taking him back shortly for a follow-up. Our problem now, however, is that on one of the visits, either when they were forcing his mouth open for the oral med or perhaps when they were giving him a shot, they did something to his front left leg and now he moves his shoulder but cannot seem to lift his arm up from the elbow to walk on his foot. I can't tell if he can't move his elbow or can't move his wrist. He now walks on the top of his foot. With his shoulder moving but his elbow and foot dragging. They took several X-rays and didn't see a break. They said maybe they hit a nerve and proceeded to give him his shots in his pectoral muscles, but it's been months now with no change to his leg. I'm tempted to take him back to the first Exotic Pet Vet for the follow-up pneumonia appointment we need to make and that way get a second opinion about his leg. The only problem is, they don't have all of his history.  Do you have any suggestions?  Anything you can tell us would be greatly appreciated.

This is something I can likely help you with, but with history from two other vets and chronic illness, it's going to take quite a bit of back and forth to get to the bottom of this. I'm going to need photos of your terrarium and all the other environmental conditions that weren't provided.

I'm going to ask you to get in touch with me via my page at for a full consult first, and I recommend that you do this BEFORE you see ANY other vet. It's not going to surprise me in the least if they gave improper diagnosis or treatments, and I clean up after vets all the time who frankly don't know reptile medicine as well as they would have the typical pet owner believe. Unless these vets are board certified exotic/avian/reptile veterinarians, and do not keep reptiles in their own homes for a good long time, then I would take what they say with a big grain of salt. I'll bet you that I can do this turtle more good. Veterinarians frankly aren't familiar with husbandry, typically, so they are usually at a disadvantage.

Get in touch with me. I will tell you that my in depth consults are donation based, but getting into this issue is going to take a bit more than this service at allexperts is made for, and it will be far better money spent to get educated and given in depth guidance than what you will spend going back and forth between vets with this recurring illness.  


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YOU WILL GET A REJECTION OF YOUR QUESTION IF YOU FAIL TO FOLLOW THE INSTRUCTIONS TO QUESTIONER IN FULL!!. I am primarily here to assist with health concerns. I am here for the more difficult questions. Not for questions that you could research and easily find the answer yourself. I have stringent standards that you provide DETAILED and RELEVANT background history on your pet before you ask me ANY question about it other than GENDER or ID. The requested information is in the instructions to questioner. Failure to answer EACH of those questions to provide that background will result in your question being REJECTED. I can answer questions related reptile husbandry, identification (esp. in Texas and the SW), legal aspects, and intermediate-advanced level medical care. I am the director of Wichita Falls Reptile Rescue (TX), a wildlife rehabilitator specializing in reptiles, a founding member of The Society for Horned Lizard Preservation, a subscriber to the International Veterinary Information Service,,, and a Dept of State Health Services certified animal control instructor (CE) for reptile handling. I do most of my own veterinary care in-house. I am most experienced in Chelonia (turtles&torts) with box turtles and common smaller tortoises; and in Squamata (lizards & snakes) with everything from Anoles, Geckos, Beardies, and Monitors, to venomous snakes. I am most known for my expertise with horned lizards (Phrynosoma). With snakes, my primary expertise is in Crotalids (rattlesnakes), but I can answer a broad range of questions about various species. I am not aware of any reptile related question, in general, that I would not be able to provide some reasonable answer for. I have a direct style and may tell you something you did not want to hear; but the welfare of the animal comes first with me, and I will always reflect that position in my answer.


I am an amateur herpetologist, with 20+ years experience in reptiles. I am a reptile rescuer and subscriber to the International Veterinary Information Service. I have medical and scientific resources available, and have had to learn herp medical care over the years. I am not a vet, but I read from the same materials and have had to correct a few in the past, as it related to reptiles. My specific area of expertise is in Chelonians ( primary- Box Turtles ), Phrynosoma ( Horned Lizards ), and Crotalids ( primary- Western Diamondback Rattlesnakes ); though I have some knowledge and/or experience also with aquatic turtles ( primary- Red Eared Sliders ), tortoises ( primary-Sulcata and Horsfieldii ), monitors ( primary- Savannah ), many other smaller lizards, and with some colubrid snakes.

I am currently the caretaker of 5 Horned Lizards, 22 Box Turtles, 18 aquatic turtles, 7 fire Bellied Toads, 3 Green Iguanas, 1 Spiny Lizard, 1 Bullsnake, 5 Eastern Ratsnakes, 4 Great Plains x Eastern Ratsnakes, 1 Albino Great Plains Ratsnake, 1 Massasauga Rattlesnake, 1 Leopard Gecko, 7 Fox Squirrels, 2 Deer Mice, 2 Hispid Cotton Rats, 3 Merriam's Pocket Mice, 1 Cotton-Tail, 1 Former racing pigeon, and 1 Budgie. Previously: Leopard Geckos, Golden Gecko, African White-Spotted Wall Gecko, Mediterranean Geckos, Bahama Anoles, Ca. Kingsnake, Brazilian Rainbow Boa, Western Diamondback Rattlesnakes, Russian Tortoise, Savannah Monitor, and Eastern Cotton-tail rabbits.


Co-Founder & Director: Wichita Falls Reptile Rescue

Founder: The Society for Horned Lizard Preservation

Publications contributor. The Horned Lizard Husbandry Manual - self published 75 pages of care information on genus Phrynosoma.

Wikipedia entry "Horned Lizards" - contributed to a majority of the content., and various reptile related forums and email lists under the handles "fireside3" and PhrynosomaTexas".

My 20+ yrs of hands-on field, rehabilitation, and captive husbandry experience beats a PhD any day of the week. I am also a state accredited animal control instructor for reptile handling.

Past/Present Clients

I was requested to provide my care manual on the Desert Horned Lizard (Phrynosoma platyrhinos), for the Montreal zoo. My manual is also used by several other zoological institutions in N. America. I also teach reptile education to summer camps, and instruct wildlife rehabilitators on live saving and rehab techniques with reptiles.

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