Kharghar resident Madhurima Gupta was shocked when she took her red-ear slider turtle for a routine health check up. The doctor found that the 13-year-old reptile had not grown to its full capacity, its legs were deformed and it was also suffering from vitamin deficiency.
However, this is not a stray case. Veterinary doctors across the city are getting several such cases where pet turtles are facing nutritional deficiencies. “Lack of knowledge among the owners about the diet of these reptiles results in vitamin, mineral and calcium deficiencies among them. Softening of shell and malnourishment are the common problems caused by these deficiencies,” said Dr. Yuvraj Kaginkar, who runs Myvets 4 Pets clinic at Kharghar and Chunabhatti.
On an average, various vet clinics in the city treat at least five pet turtles each day for vitamin deficiencies, anorexia and other health ailments.
For instance, when Girgaon resident Lalita Khatau’s took her pet turtle to vet clinic, she found out that it had cervical spondylitis. Since Khatau is a vegetarian, she does not feed meat to her pet. “Owners should not impose vegetarianism on their pets,” said Dr Dinesh Vinherkar, who runs Pet Health Clinic at Vakola. Dr Sharad Chavan, a veterinary doctor who runs Pawprints in Borivli (West) concurs, “Turtles need vegetables such as cabbage, broccoli and lettuce and goat or chicken heart without fats.”
Experts also claimed that pet turtles seldom get sunlight at homes. “These reptiles need mild sunlight for at least 15-30 minutes, once before 9 am and then after 4:30 pm. But as they are kept in water the whole day, they miss out on these vitamins,” added Dr Vinherkar.