why cant tortoises and turtles be together?

Status
Not open for further replies.

Squidget

Member
5 Year Member
Joined
Jan 31, 2012
Messages
30
Location (City and/or State)
Pittsburgh
For the record i am NOT talking about housing them together...rather hanging out together. I have a 6 inch ornate box turtle and my little baby sulcata and i have read that they cannot be around each other due to some microbe or something that they carry that will kill the other. but i cannot find out exactly how or what it is that is so bad for the other? i like to give them free time in the house and when it gets warmer in the yard...but i only have one house and yard so how can i keep it safe without keeping one caged up all the time(which of coarse would have to be the box turtle since she wont get as big as a small car lol)...is it something in their poop or what? i would love for them to meet and hang out together when my little guy (still cant decide on a dang name lol) gets a little bigger but only if it will not cause harm to either of them. can anyone tell me exactl what it is thats so bad and how it is transfered to the other, and what it does as well as how to prevent it from happening.
 

ascott

Well-Known Member
5 Year Member
Joined
Apr 10, 2011
Messages
16,147
Location (City and/or State)
Apple Valley, California
It is a bit like Russian roulette....maybe you will be the one that squeaks by and never end up with a sick or dying tortoise or turtle.....on the other hand that is exactly what you may end up with....its that draw of chance that you will have to decide on...me personally would not take those odds taking into account the negative side of the draw...

Another this.g you will want to take into thought is...you are fully aware of the ultimate size of your sullie so there would be physical damage that will be a genuine hazard....now, then there is the issue that each species has evolved with the ability to ward off certain types of bacteria and such so with their own species the bacteria and such are not foreign ..but throw in the mix one smothers set of species specific bacteria and such...then add in that tortoise and turtles are both notorious poo sniffers...vouchers...eaters that the swap of bacteria and such can prove lethal...

Somewhat like when we travel abroad we should get certain shots to prevent ourselves from being at increased risks of catching some foreign germ..bacteria prominent in different parts of the world...due to even that mere new exposure can wreak havoc from person to person due to the lack of exposure which in turn makes one vulnerable to a host of goodies....now, this may not be the best example but the one that came to mind..:D
 

Madkins007

Well-Known Member
Moderator
10 Year Member!
Joined
Feb 15, 2008
Messages
5,393
Location (City and/or State)
Nebraska
Let me give you a real world example. A keeper has hinged-backs and red-footeds. These two species are closely related by DNA which means anything that one gets, the other can get as well. This can be worms, flagellates, mites, diseases, and every other form of pathogen known that passes in droppings, physical contact, secondary infection (infecting a substrate or water dish then the other animal touching the same thing), etc.

However, they are separated by an ocean and have been for millions of years. The germs in both groups has had a long time to mutate and specialize, and both species have had a long time to grow some immunity to the pathogens.

Using a typical quarantine period helps minimize SOME pathogen cross-contamination, but not all of it since many germs can dwell in the system in a state of low activity until some stressful event causes the pathogens to bloom and shed- now infecting the other species. The newly infected species has little resistance and often does not do well.

There are dozens of other real-life examples.
- Gopher tortoises kept captive, even for a short while, then released to the wild have brought pathogens to wild populations with little resistance and cause wide-spread illness.
- Europeans bringing disease to natives in North and South America, etc.
- Cattle from one region are generally restricted from travelling to other regions without documentation.
- International restrictions exist on importing everything from certain invertebrates to lots of kinds of plants just to minimize the odds for cross-contamination (restrictions to prevent invasive species are also in place).

Thousands of keepers violate this rule every day and most of the time nothing bad seems to happen. However, it often bites the keeper in the bottom when the tortoises that have been quietly harboring infections all this time are stressed then start doing badly.

The best and most simple solution is to keep animals from different regions apart, period. The most commonly used method is to put them together and hope for the best.

By the way, this all ignores the detail that box turtles and sulcata do not come from very similar habitats to begin with.
 

ascott

Well-Known Member
5 Year Member
Joined
Apr 10, 2011
Messages
16,147
Location (City and/or State)
Apple Valley, California
Apologies....using my dumb smart phone and it changes...adds words it likes better....so in my second section of prior post the word "smothers" should have been "others"....and the word "vouchers" should have been "touches"...:p
 

Yvonne G

Old Timer
TFO Admin
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jan 23, 2008
Messages
89,017
Location (City and/or State)
Clovis, CA
And along with what Mark said...turtles and tortoises are sick for a very, very long time before you notice it. So they may be living together for months, even years, and when one eventually shows symptoms and dies, they've been together for so long that you don't realize that living together is the reason for the sickness/death.
 

Squidget

Member
5 Year Member
Joined
Jan 31, 2012
Messages
30
Location (City and/or State)
Pittsburgh
Yes the do come from different habitats but again I am not talking about housing together. Both have heir own separate enclosures in seperate rooms and even in seperate levels of te house. What I am wondering is if I let one out to roam the house or yard then after that one goes in his or her cage then I bring he other out, is there any fear of one catching something then? And yes I do realize sulcatas get very large (note the "size of a small car" comment lol!) I realize turtles and torts do not "play" in the sense that we think of, but let's say I have both roaming he house or yard together, whats the best and worst case scenario that potentially could happen. Keep on mind this hypothetical situation would be supervised so I do not mean fighting. I'm still on the germs subject lol.
 

ascott

Well-Known Member
5 Year Member
Joined
Apr 10, 2011
Messages
16,147
Location (City and/or State)
Apple Valley, California
Well..worst case scenario...you end up with a dead turtle and a dead tortoise...

The problem with them sharing common space (your same yard..one overlapping where the other has been) is the same as them sharing the same enclosure....

You can make an outdoor retreat for your turtle that does not overlap where your tortoise will be....simple solution...:D
 

Squidget

Member
5 Year Member
Joined
Jan 31, 2012
Messages
30
Location (City and/or State)
Pittsburgh
Ok simple solution I like it lol!) so in laymans terms can anyone explain to me exactly what it is that would kill one or the other... Nothing fancy please haha. This is why I love this section lol
 

ascott

Well-Known Member
5 Year Member
Joined
Apr 10, 2011
Messages
16,147
Location (City and/or State)
Apple Valley, California
Please go back and read post 2,3 and 5 in this thread....all of the possibilities are in those spots...:D
 

GeoTerraTestudo

Active Member
5 Year Member
Joined
May 7, 2011
Messages
3,311
Location (City and/or State)
Broomfield, Colorado
I agree with most of the answers provided above.

It's not only one microbe exchanged between closely related animals, but many. If they live together - or even near to each other - they are going to swap bacteria, archaea, fungi, and protists with each other. Many of these organisms are commensal (harmless), some mutualistic (beneficial), and a few parasitic or pathogenic (disease-causing). If animals are not adapted to living together (like two species from opposite sides of the world), then they should not be forced to do so. That applies not only to turtles, but to animals in general, including humans and other primates.

However, I hasten to add that some turtle species do appear to be adapted to cohabitation with certain other species. For example, when you look at pond turtles on a log, they may be from several different species (painted, sliders, cooters, chicken turtle, etc.). Moreover, underwater those same turtles may be cohabitating with turtles we don't even normally see at the surface (snappers, mud turtles, musk turtles, etc.). In that type of a system, those animals may have adaptations for sharing germs (microbes) with other species. Granted, an individual introduced from a far away community could introduce dangerous new parasites or pathogens. However, as long as there are no foreign pathogens around, I think such species can safely be kept with other species, but only those with which they have co-evolved.

When you look at terrestrial systems, though, it's a different story. How many species of turtle do you find on land in a given environment? Usually one, rarely two, almost never three, and to my knowledge, four is unheard of. For example, here in North America, you may find Gopherus tortoises coexisting with one type of box turtle or another, so there may be two terrestrial species living in the same ecosystem. Generally, though, it's only one species: sulcatas in the Sahel, Russians on the steppe, hingebacks in the rainforest. Sometimes redfoots and yellowfoots cross paths, but they usually don't. Ditto with Greek and Hermann tortoises.

The point of all this is that, while pond turtle immune systems may be fine with cohabitating, terrestrial turtle immune systems probably are not. If animals do adapt to new pathogenic microbes, then that takes eons - and we can't afford to wait that long.
 

dmmj

The member formerly known as captain awesome
Moderator
10 Year Member!
Joined
Aug 15, 2008
Messages
19,752
Location (City and/or State)
CA
My question would be, is why do you want them to interact with each other?
 

pryncesssc

Member
5 Year Member
Joined
Jan 15, 2012
Messages
489
Location (City and/or State)
Chicago IL
I don't think he "wants" them to interact . I think he just did not understand why one couldn't wander the yard and then the other and right now they are the same size.
I guess the simplistic explanation is that torts can carry diseases that can kill a turtle and turtles can carry a virus that can kill a tort but it doesn't happen in the wild because their species never cross so they have no immunity to eachothr
 

terryo

Well-Known Member
10 Year Member!
Joined
Aug 24, 2007
Messages
8,972
Location (City and/or State)
Staten Island, New York
I agree with all the above posts, but.......... If you get two hatchlings, both come from know breeders, both need the same requirements, and both are the same age, then I see nothing wrong with it. For instance, a Cherry Head and a Box Turtle. I don't see anything wrong with that. I've done it, and I know a few others who have had success doing this too. Solo spent last Summer outside with a little Three Toed, who was the same age and both came from well know breeders.
But if you acquired them at an older age, and each one needed different environments then I wouldn't do it.
 

jaizei

Unknown Member
Moderator
10 Year Member!
Joined
Feb 5, 2011
Messages
8,246
Location (City and/or State)
Earth
Squidget said:
can anyone tell me exactl what it is thats so bad and how it is transfered to the other, and what it does as well as how to prevent it from happening.

The only way to truly prevent it from happening is to only own 1 species. :( But then you have to worry about the natives. What's the point of keeping your sulcata from sharing a yard with your captive box turtle only to have it share your yard with wild box turtles? So to be on the safe side you should probably only own species if you live within their natural range. :p

If they are both healthy and from known sources, then I wouldn't worry much about them sharing a yard.
 

GeoTerraTestudo

Active Member
5 Year Member
Joined
May 7, 2011
Messages
3,311
Location (City and/or State)
Broomfield, Colorado
terryo said:
I agree with all the above posts, but.......... If you get two hatchlings, both come from know breeders, both need the same requirements, and both are the same age, then I see nothing wrong with it. For instance, a Cherry Head and a Box Turtle. I don't see anything wrong with that. I've done it, and I know a few others who have had success doing this too. Solo spent last Summer outside with a little Three Toed, who was the same age and both came from well know breeders.
But if you acquired them at an older age, and each one needed different environments then I wouldn't do it.

True, but then the two species might come into conflict, simply because they have different temperaments, behavioral signals, and needs for space. It might turn out fine, and the boxie and redfoot might get along well with each other. On the other hand, though, they might not understand each other and end up getting into a fight. Just to be on the safe side, it's probably better to let them associate with their own kind (at the appropriate times, and the right densities).
 

Squidget

Member
5 Year Member
Joined
Jan 31, 2012
Messages
30
Location (City and/or State)
Pittsburgh
jaizei said:
Squidget said:
can anyone tell me exactl what it is thats so bad and how it is transfered to the other, and what it does as well as how to prevent it from happening.

The only way to truly prevent it from happening is to only own 1 species. :( But then you have to worry about the natives. What's the point of keeping your sulcata from sharing a yard with your captive box turtle only to have it share your yard with wild box turtles? So to be on the safe side you should probably only own species if you live within their natural range. :p

If they are both healthy and from known sources, then I wouldn't worry much about them sharing a yard.

Well there are not really any turtles native to my suburbian area lol so thats not really a worry. my boxie is a rescue and ornate box turtles are not from my area...they are from texas and surrounding areas...not even close to me. and she was a rescue and i am assuming from her to be all the way in PA she was from a breeder since they cannot survive outdoors in my area therefor she didnt just get picked up on th eside of the road. My sulcata IS from a breeder though. im not saying i want them to be cuddle buddies or anything...just wanted to know exactly what to look out for when owning the 2 species and what would happen if they did cross paths at some point...im certainly not giving up either of them. i have waited a lifetime for my sulcata and now that my fiance and I own our own home i could finally get him. And there are too many people who will not give an ornate the proper care, they require a bit more attention then your average eastern box turtle, and i see so many ignorant people walk into my shop thinking they can stick their turtles in a 5 gallon tank i would never risk her becoming one of "those" turtles. plus i love them both lol! So i will just have to be careful i suppose.
 

ascott

Well-Known Member
5 Year Member
Joined
Apr 10, 2011
Messages
16,147
Location (City and/or State)
Apple Valley, California
So i will just have to be careful i suppose.

Perfect :D Being aware is key to setting them each up a safe environment....also, you can certainly be very creative with your space available....:p
 

jaizei

Unknown Member
Moderator
10 Year Member!
Joined
Feb 5, 2011
Messages
8,246
Location (City and/or State)
Earth
Squidget said:
jaizei said:
Squidget said:
can anyone tell me exactl what it is thats so bad and how it is transfered to the other, and what it does as well as how to prevent it from happening.

The only way to truly prevent it from happening is to only own 1 species. :( But then you have to worry about the natives. What's the point of keeping your sulcata from sharing a yard with your captive box turtle only to have it share your yard with wild box turtles? So to be on the safe side you should probably only own species if you live within their natural range. :p

If they are both healthy and from known sources, then I wouldn't worry much about them sharing a yard.

Well there are not really any turtles native to my suburbian area lol so thats not really a worry. my boxie is a rescue and ornate box turtles are not from my area...they are from texas and surrounding areas...not even close to me. and she was a rescue and i am assuming from her to be all the way in PA she was from a breeder since they cannot survive outdoors in my area therefor she didnt just get picked up on th eside of the road. My sulcata IS from a breeder though. im not saying i want them to be cuddle buddies or anything...just wanted to know exactly what to look out for when owning the 2 species and what would happen if they did cross paths at some point...im certainly not giving up either of them. i have waited a lifetime for my sulcata and now that my fiance and I own our own home i could finally get him. And there are too many people who will not give an ornate the proper care, they require a bit more attention then your average eastern box turtle, and i see so many ignorant people walk into my shop thinking they can stick their turtles in a 5 gallon tank i would never risk her becoming one of "those" turtles. plus i love them both lol! So i will just have to be careful i suppose.

My point was that you should keep your tortoises how you think is best. I wasn't really suggesting that you give one of them up. :) I am not suggesting anything, actually; I think you should educate yourself and make a decision. However, I think the danger is overstated. Simply putting your sulcata outside is going to introduce it to a plethora of organisms that it hasn't evolved alongside. The idea that keeping two separate enclosures in the same general area (your yard) will prevent transmission of some sort of hypothetical super dangerous infectious agent is ridiculous. Oh, I forgot, we'll put them in opposite corners. (And pray that when it rains that there isn't any runoff from one to the other.) :p
 

Madkins007

Well-Known Member
Moderator
10 Year Member!
Joined
Feb 15, 2008
Messages
5,393
Location (City and/or State)
Nebraska
terryo said:
I agree with all the above posts, but.......... If you get two hatchlings, both come from know breeders, both need the same requirements, and both are the same age, then I see nothing wrong with it. For instance, a Cherry Head and a Box Turtle. I don't see anything wrong with that. I've done it, and I know a few others who have had success doing this too. Solo spent last Summer outside with a little Three Toed, who was the same age and both came from well know breeders.
But if you acquired them at an older age, and each one needed different environments then I wouldn't do it.

I really hate to point this out, but getting them from known good breeders really does not mean that the animals are not carrying something that they could have picked up from any of the other animals in the breeder's facility. Every living animal carries its own load of viruses, bacteria, parasites, etc. unless it is born into and raised in a sterile bubble, and as we said, when these pathogens are exposed to animals that are not resistant, bad things can happen.

Really good cares (UVB, good diet, etc.) work wonders to prevent the stress that causes pathogens to 'bloom' in the host, then shed and get picked up by others.

And, of course, most of the pathogens we are talking about are pretty mild, like the common cold. It is like the classic bell curve- some small number of situations like this will result in absolutely nothing happening. A big hill in the middle represents the bulk of the situations- something happens but is not a big deal- possibly not even noticed by the keepers. A small chunk on the other end represents the worse-case scenario and bad things happen.
 

supremelysteve

Member
10 Year Member!
Joined
May 22, 2009
Messages
609
Location (City and/or State)
Central Valley, CA
Squidget said:
For the record i am NOT talking about housing them together...rather hanging out together. I have a 6 inch ornate box turtle and my little baby sulcata and i have read that they cannot be around each other due to some microbe or something that they carry that will kill the other. but i cannot find out exactly how or what it is that is so bad for the other? i like to give them free time in the house and when it gets warmer in the yard...but i only have one house and yard so how can i keep it safe without keeping one caged up all the time(which of coarse would have to be the box turtle since she wont get as big as a small car lol)...is it something in their poop or what? i would love for them to meet and hang out together when my little guy (still cant decide on a dang name lol) gets a little bigger but only if it will not cause harm to either of them. can anyone tell me exactl what it is thats so bad and how it is transfered to the other, and what it does as well as how to prevent it from happening.

The only diseases I am aware of is the mycoplasma's which are a very dangerous pathogen that have been spread to california desert tortoises and to certain populations of eastern box turtles and herpes which is known to be carried by some testudo species.
Mycoplasma probably won't be carried long without expressing itself, and your turtle and tortoise are almost certainly free from it. I don't think either of your species are on the radar list for herpes either.

Many keepers do exactly what you're proposing. I don't, but many others do. It is not advisable because of the possibility one could be carrying something, but the real risk is probably somewhat low. If I had to put money on it, I'd say both will be perfectly fine. But you need to know that it is a real risk. From what you're reading in the above posts, I can see that you now know there is a risk!

The most likely problem would come from your wild-caught box turtle and could be transmitted to your tortoise. Perhaps your tortoise gets parasites from eating box turtle poop. Not life-threatening but a real world possibility.

Steve
 
Status
Not open for further replies.
TortoiseSupply.com

New Posts

Top