Recommendation for getting a care sheet changed at a pet store

K8E K

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We have a reptile "specialty" store in the East Bay California that people loooooove. I quite honestly suspect it's the air of expertise that is lovingly stoked. They keep several species of tortoises and they're all badly pyramided, in small, hot cages, many in sand, many without water. The owners also, from what I understand, breed in San Diego, but I'm unclear on what species. They also offer tortoise brumation, I know a few folks who take advantage of that service- specifically because they care greatly for their animals and want "experts" to do it for them, which I empathize with.

If anyone asks I usually just recommend people here for information on Tortoises, or for purchasing. But people really really seem to love this place, and pretty uniformly recommend it as the place to get the best info/animals, etc. Here's their care sheet for tortoises (TLDR, don't offer desert tortoises water, etc.)


Ok. I know it's pretty common for pet stores to be awful with this stuff, but it really breaks my heart every time someone passes along a recommendation for this place and their expertise. I'd like to at least offer them some more information- has anyone started a discussion like this with stores? Even if they don't start caring for their tortoises better, it'd be amazing to see the care sheets updated with the care sheets offered here.

I'd like recommendations on how to approach this- I am just an enthusiast, but I appreciate when I get correct information (how would I know otherwise?). It is East Bay Vivarium, in Berkeley. Should start by emailing with recommendations for care sheets? Let it go? *feeling pained*
 

Tom

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Tough call. The more "expert" they feel they are, the more likely they are to dismiss you.

The only way to reach some people is through their wallet. When their bad advice starts hurting their income, they will reconsider it.

All you can do is try talking to the manager(s) and explaining why "screened pine, peat moss and sand" are not good substrates. Its great that they recommend daily soaking, but they clearly have no idea why Sulcatas and leopards need humidity. They also clearly don't understand what the word "tropical" means. There are deserts AND rain forests within the tropics.

They may dismiss and/or insult you, but someone has to plant that seed. When enough customers keep telling them the same thing over and over, and keep telling them that they will not be buying anything from them because of their poor level of understanding of tortoise care, they will reluctantly and slowly begin to re-think their stance and slowly make changes.
 

Maro2Bear

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Hhhmmm. It’s hard to even gently suggest info changes etc to the proprietor of such a place. Their house, their rules. But, i guess you could suggest they provide specific care info for specific species torts rather than this one generic one.

Already see issues with the Substrate Section (not even good proof reading....they refer to Tropical Species in both sentences under bedding. Dry peat moss...pine shavings...and even fine sand.

❌ Bedding: Screened pine shavings or dry peat moss, mixed with fine-grained sand can be used for tropical tortoises. Tropical tortoises should have moist peat moss.
 

K8E K

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Yeah, I totally get that, too- their house their rules. It just bums me out, I guess- and it sucks to not feel useful in the face of so much misinformation (or at least, not great information?). And maybe it irks me that they have such positive reviews when their tortoises seem so poorly. PetCo or something, I get- you kind of expect it there. Somewhere that is specialty and arguably supposed to be "expert" I guess I just expect better, because I'd *want* to trust the info.

I've been a total beginner just wanting to find out how to best care for my tortoise, and I've made plenty of mistakes. SO many. I guess it feels marginally better that I know I was doing my best but didn't know how to find the best information- but it shouldn't be so dang hard to get decent basic info.

So, yeah, maybe just shaking my fist at the wind.
 

Pastel Tortie

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Maybe you could ask if they have any of those "smooth" sulcata or leopard (or whatever other species they have) tortoises... Then show them pictures of tortoises raised by @Tom, @Markw84, and other TFO members who get it right...

I don't have any tortoises (just turtles so far), but I know that if/when I eventually get a young tortoise, I want one of those "smooth" tortoises. If more people realized those "smooth" tortoises exist, maybe more customers would ask for them.
 

turtlesteve

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I mean, that’s not a good care sheet but I’ve seen worse. I would take a very targeted approach if it were me. Rather than try to point out all the problems, just single out the worst one or two. This way you can approach the owner without threatening his or her dignity.

The biggest single problem I see is lack of humidity control, so this would be my focus. I’d approach it by saying there has been a lot of new work done that shows high humidity prevents growth deformities, and better mimics microclimates in the wild, etc. Making it sound “new” may help blunt the fact that you are calling them out.
 

turtlesteve

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Maybe you could ask if they have any of those "smooth" sulcata or leopard (or whatever other species they have) tortoises... Then show them pictures of tortoises raised by @Tom, @Markw84, and other TFO members who get it right...

I don't have any tortoises (just turtles so far), but I know that if/when I eventually get a young tortoise, I want one of those "smooth" tortoises. If more people realized those "smooth" tortoises exist, maybe more customers would ask for them.
I like this idea better. If they were to ‘happen’ to get a customer every few months that turned their nose up at the obvious deformities....
 

K8E K

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Tough call. The more "expert" they feel they are, the more likely they are to dismiss you.

The only way to reach some people is through their wallet. When their bad advice starts hurting their income, they will reconsider it.

All you can do is try talking to the manager(s) and explaining why "screened pine, peat moss and sand" are not good substrates. Its great that they recommend daily soaking, but they clearly have no idea why Sulcatas and leopards need humidity. They also clearly don't understand what the word "tropical" means. There are deserts AND rain forests within the tropics.

They may dismiss and/or insult you, but someone has to plant that seed. When enough customers keep telling them the same thing over and over, and keep telling them that they will not be buying anything from them because of their poor level of understanding of tortoise care, they will reluctantly and slowly begin to re-think their stance and slowly make changes.
Thanks, this actually makes me feel better, in a way. I'm ok with being dismissed- and I feel better passing along the care sheets you and others created here, just for my own edification I may do that. If nothing else, maybe it would make it reallllly really easy to update and lower the inertia of doing it...

I'm sure you're right- the wallet.I hate to say it, but since most people buying there are beginners (I think- I'm guessing), I'd guess they probably won't have a lot of motivation to change. Oh well. I have tried to ignore it for years- I went years ago to check it out initially, and was really bummed, went back again thinking I was maybe wrong (and there was a certain small child really wanting a cockroach pet 😅)- it was worse than I remembered. It came up again for me as there was some request for reptile advice on a neighborhood forum and every recommendation was to head there. whoof. I don't know as much about lizards, I guess I hope they're cared for better than the tortoises.
 

Pastel Tortie

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I like this idea better. If they were to ‘happen’ to get a customer every few months that turned their nose up at the obvious deformities....
Imagine if half your customers at a reptile expo asked if you had any of "those smooth tortoises" to sell. Especially if the vendors that had them advertised them as such. You don't get those "smooth" tortoises if you don't raise them a certain way.
 

Tom

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Thanks, this actually makes me feel better, in a way. I'm ok with being dismissed- and I feel better passing along the care sheets you and others created here, just for my own edification I may do that. If nothing else, maybe it would make it reallllly really easy to update and lower the inertia of doing it...

I'm sure you're right- the wallet.I hate to say it, but since most people buying there are beginners (I think- I'm guessing), I'd guess they probably won't have a lot of motivation to change. Oh well. I have tried to ignore it for years- I went years ago to check it out initially, and was really bummed, went back again thinking I was maybe wrong (and there was a certain small child really wanting a cockroach pet 😅)- it was worse than I remembered. It came up again for me as there was some request for reptile advice on a neighborhood forum and every recommendation was to head there. whoof. I don't know as much about lizards, I guess I hope they're cared for better than the tortoises.
Talk to them. See what they say and then tell us. Be polite, helpful and friendly. Point out that tortoises are not supposed to look like that (pyramided) and that they turn out that way as a direct result of their living conditions. As you are their customer, they should at least be patient and hear you out. If they are rude, let them know you'll be reporting that back to the 40,000+ members of the tortoise forum and we will spread the word about their bad behavior and poor info. Don't threaten them up front, but keep all of us in your back pocket as a tool to get them to open their minds, if needed. Get the person's name you talked to as well. It might help to have an experienced articulate member call or go in and explain this further. How far from Sacramento is that store?
 

Markw84

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We have a reptile "specialty" store in the East Bay California that people loooooove. I quite honestly suspect it's the air of expertise that is lovingly stoked. They keep several species of tortoises and they're all badly pyramided, in small, hot cages, many in sand, many without water. The owners also, from what I understand, breed in San Diego, but I'm unclear on what species. They also offer tortoise brumation, I know a few folks who take advantage of that service- specifically because they care greatly for their animals and want "experts" to do it for them, which I empathize with.

If anyone asks I usually just recommend people here for information on Tortoises, or for purchasing. But people really really seem to love this place, and pretty uniformly recommend it as the place to get the best info/animals, etc. Here's their care sheet for tortoises (TLDR, don't offer desert tortoises water, etc.)


Ok. I know it's pretty common for pet stores to be awful with this stuff, but it really breaks my heart every time someone passes along a recommendation for this place and their expertise. I'd like to at least offer them some more information- has anyone started a discussion like this with stores? Even if they don't start caring for their tortoises better, it'd be amazing to see the care sheets updated with the care sheets offered here.

I'd like recommendations on how to approach this- I am just an enthusiast, but I appreciate when I get correct information (how would I know otherwise?). It is East Bay Vivarium, in Berkeley. Should start by emailing with recommendations for care sheets? Let it go? *feeling pained*
The East Bay Vivarium has been there a long time. It is living off the reputation of the first owners who were very active in the reptile and the tortoise societies in N Calif back then. Ron Cauble was one of the owners. I got to know him and he was pretty knowledgable and did really care about reptiles. Snakes were their speciality and they had some really great monitors. Ron also worked closely with Ron Tremper and he bred sulcatas and leopards back then (mid 80s) when hardly anyone was in the US. They sold those at the store there and that was very rare back then.

I was also giving that type of advice back then. But we have learned so much, it takes someone really following tortoise husbandry to be up on all we know now. None of the current owners or managers that I know of are in that category.

We need to continue to educate here best we can. Teach people what to look for when buying a tortoise, and the customer, as alluded to earlier, will start asking the right questions often enough to cause those who do care to take a look at the advice they are giving. Many won't care, many won't bother, but some will. A little at a time it will change. Especially as more and more smooth tortoises - that are visually so easy to see the difference with, become more and more common.
 

K8E K

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The East Bay Vivarium has been there a long time. It is living off the reputation of the first owners who were very active in the reptile and the tortoise societies in N Calif back then. Ron Cauble was one of the owners. I got to know him and he was pretty knowledgable and did really care about reptiles. Snakes were their speciality and they had some really great monitors. Ron also worked closely with Ron Tremper and he bred sulcatas and leopards back then (mid 80s) when hardly anyone was in the US. They sold those at the store there and that was very rare back then.

I was also giving that type of advice back then. But we have learned so much, it takes someone really following tortoise husbandry to be up on all we know now. None of the current owners or managers that I know of are in that category.

We need to continue to educate here best we can. Teach people what to look for when buying a tortoise, and the customer, as alluded to earlier, will start asking the right questions often enough to cause those who do care to take a look at the advice they are giving. Many won't care, many won't bother, but some will. A little at a time it will change. Especially as more and more smooth tortoises - that are visually so easy to see the difference with, become more and more common.
It does in some sense feel a lot better to know that at some point, it really had this good reputation for a reason! And not to say that there's any ill intent there (or on my end), I am definitely holding them to a different standard than I would really any of the other random pet stores that you know has a tortoise or two. They only keep reptiles, and they're known for their information- people really seem to rely on it to be the place to get expertise. So to feel like they're not keeping up or doing what they could to spread good info just feels bad.
 

TortloverPM

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Just a thought but if all the above doesnt work you can always post in their reviews some TF care sheets etc you can write as a just being helpful/just so you know type thing or if owner/manager was really rude and unwilling you can post as care info they refuse to update at the suffering of their animals or something like that. Just a thought I know people read reviews and when I found this site and started reading diff articles I could immediately feel I was in the right place. All the info here is backed up with the why not just do it this way because. So if one person reads it they'll pass it along to people they know the same way i have. I feel that would be worth it. Best of luck!
 

Chubbs the tegu

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Print out a bunch Of caresheets and stand outside the store all day handing them out 🤪
 
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