Pet store tortoises - Always a No No???

SeanH.

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Hi guys!

I'm planning on getting a tortoise in sometime next year, so the other day when I walked by a pet store I went in for a look and saw they had tortoises (most pet stores don't here in Germany).

I know that getting your tortoise from a pet store usually isn't the best idea, but they didn't really seem to be in bad shape.

They sell russians, greeks and hermanns and keep the three species in seperate 3'x3' glass enclosures. I spent a little time watching them and witnessed their care routine... The lady sprayed the enclosure down, then cleaned out their water dish and fed them a nice pile of dark leafy stuff.

As far as I could tell, the pros about their enclosure were:
-water dish
-cuttle bone
-MVB
-nice big hide

The cons on the other hand:
-calci sand as substrate
-hay in the hide
-water dish too small to self soak

I really just paid attention to the russians. There were three of them and when I asked about their age the lady dug out their papers and told me they hatched in June 2014. She said they get all their tortoises as hatchlings from local breeders they have contracts with, but people tend to buy the really little ones first so the three of them are kind of left over...

As far as I could tell they seemed pretty active. They all ate, walked around and basked a little. One of them pooped (looked perfectly fine) and another one peed quite a bit (that means it's well hydrated, right?).

They did show some pyramiding though. I guess they don't soak them and the enclosure is not a closed chamber.

I guess I feel bad for them because they never got picked... ^^' I also thought it might be easier to adjust to my strict indoor housing (at least for now) for a tortoise whose been in a tank all their life instead of cramming a tortoise in that's used to being outdoors. Am I making any sense???...

Thoughts?
 

ZEROPILOT

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I see nothing wrong with buying a tortoise from a pet store.
The issues could be that they will have parasites. Especially if they keep multiple species together.
See if they have a health guarantee and if so, for how long.
The tortoise should feel heavy. Not light and it should have wide open and alert eyes. No watery eyes and no discharge from the eyes, nose or mouth. No sounds while breathing and no tail with visible signs of runny poop. also look for a shell that feels soft. Missing scales or claws. They all might be signs of trouble.
Pet stores will also try to sell you anything else that they have to sell, including the wrong type of lights. Do not purchase any of the compact (CFL) coiled florescent bulbs. And what type and how hot a heat lamp will be determined by what type of tortoise you end up buying.
 

JoesMum

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The situation about pet store tortoises is different in the European Union to the USA.

The tortoises will all be captive bred and young. Wild caught are not sold in the EU by law.

What's the same as the USA is the knowledge of the people selling them, or rather the lack of it. And also their ability to try to sell you anything and everything regardless of its actual suitability.

- Use the information on TFO to set up your enclosure and decide what equipment you need to buy.
- Get the enclosure set up and ready to go before you buy a tortoise; we'll help you avoid expensive mistakes.
- Don't buy any type of package of tortoise goods no matter how much of a bargain it looks; you will be sold a load of things you don't want or can't use.
- Use your judgement on the in-store tortoises. You appear to be doing that anyway. If there's even the tiniest doubt then walk away.
 

SeanH.

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I wasn't going to buy any of the equipment there except for the enclosure (4'x2', glass, closed chamber) which I was going to run by you first anyway ^^ And that wasn't suggested by them.

Would the substrate used by them and the slight pyramiding be a deal breaker for you?

And do u think buying a tortoise that is used to an indoor enclosure makes sense?
 

dmmj

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a privately owned pet store is a much better option than a chain store before buying I would try to find out how they were raised before the store got them
 

Lemonade

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Your conclusions and thinking seem sound to me.

A few years ago, I bought a pet-store tortoise. It seemed healthy but a few months later, I discovered big abscesses up high on both back legs. The vet wasn´t sure about the cause but surmised that some kind of substrate had gotten in there and caused irritation that became sores. It was terrible and while we were able to heal the sores, he was never able to walk without some dragging.

So, I would say, check it over everywhere possible before purchasing.
 

Tidgy's Dad

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I'd by one if it were me.
The pyramiding is done and they'll grow smoothly from now on if kept humid and hydrated.
They've been there two years so are probably past the danger stage.
But a Russian really needs an enclosure bigger than 4 by 2.
 

Yvonne G

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If I want a particular type of animal and I happen to see it in a pet store, I would buy it. There are those that feel buying from pet stores doesn't do any good in the saving the animals platform because the store just goes out and buys more to replace what you bought, but I don't care about that. If the animal looks healthy I wouldn't hesitate to buy it.
 

SeanH.

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The 2x4 isn't meant to be permanent. How exactly would you define the "danger stage"? One year? Two??? I know they'll get new ones, but those usually get bought pretty soon because they're so little and cute. No one wants the "old ones" which is so unfair... they're stll babies as well!
 

Big Charlie

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I bought Charlie from a small private pet store. The pet store employees probably didn't know a lot about tortoises but Charlie came from a breeder who must have done things right. The pet store gave me a one page instruction sheet. I can't remember what exactly was on it as far as diet and other things, but I do remember the instruction for daily soaks.
 

Tom

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I would not buy a tortoise that was housed on that sand, and I would not buy a Russian that was showing pyramiding because it is an indicator that thing have been too dry. Either of those things would be a deal breaker for me, but both of those things together would cement my decision to buy else where. There could be underlying problems from either of those things that would not be easy or cheap to detect, and they could die from the complications months down the road.

Or you might get lucky and it would be fine. Why risk it? Buy from a breeder that has done everything right.
 

SeanH.

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Hey guys!!! Thanks guys for all the help. I just wanted to give you an update.

I went by that store again today and they were still there and I still can't decide. I took some pictures this time. Maybe you can tell if they look healthy.

The third one was out today as well, basking under the MVB. It looks definitely older or at least more pyramided than than the other two. They walked around a lot and they didn't seem to drag their shell or anything so hind legs seemed strong. The smaller ones are about 3".

IMG_6017.JPG IMG_6023.JPG IMG_6025.JPG IMG_6026.JPG
 

Lemonade

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Aww . . . I'd want to take them all, so I'd have to walk away. I think you are being cautious though. You're thinking is sound, and there's no definite reason not to buy one.
 

Yvonne G

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I have to admit, that enclosure looks a whole lot better than what the pet stores in our country keep tortoises in.

All those tortoises look captive born. They've been kept a bit too dry, that's why they're not perfectly smooth, but I wouldn't hesitate to get any of them.

If you do decide to buy one, be sure to soak him daily for a couple weeks, at least a half hour each time.
 
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