Q: Canned cat/dog food for North American Wood turtles

Q: Can canned dog/cat food (wet) be used as a staple diet for North American Wood turtles?  I get conflicting answers in my research, one place names it as a staple diet, others say part of the diet or use sparingly, then I did find one that said to never use it.

I'd like to find out if I can use it as a staple diet along with "treats" throughout the week.  By treats, I mean, fruits, earthworms etc. 


A: If you look at recent iHerp Answers questions, there's a brand new one called "
Leo with horrible joint growths".  Ashley posted an imagine in the comments section demonstrating the classic presentation the OP is talking about.  Go stare at that image. 

I'm not trying to sound condescending at all, but I am serious.  And this is actually perfect timing for your question haha!  Stare at that image and take it in.  Because that syndrome is what happens when people feed omnivorous reptiles a staple diet of canned dog and cat foods.  The protein levels are astronomically out of whack for omnivorous reptiles and the result, over the long term, is chronic subclinical hyperuricemia and eventually gout, which is painful and practically irreversible (see my response in the other blog).

I don't doubt at all that some have recommended this diet to you.  It's probably why gout is one of the most common diseases we see in captive reptiles.  Unfortunately those who have used this diet "successfully" and advocate its use often release, sell, trade or inadvertently kill their turtle before they get to see the longterm effects.  You can certainly use these foods as an occasional treat or a way to quickly boost weight for breeding, but this should not be considered a primary source of nutrition.  Hope this helps! - BJW

Source: http://www.iherp.com/Answers/ReptileProblem.aspx?Id=22616

Q: Sand boa still has shed on tail

Q: My male sand boa has been trying to get the skin off his tail for awhile. I feel like I've tried everything. I put a humidity box in his cage I tried to help him rub it of. I cant do it. What should I do? I have a local herp store where I got him. Sould I bring him there and ask for help. I fear it might hurt him. Am I overreacting?

Good advice, but a few quick comments.  Remember that if water feels warm to you, it is
warmer than your body temperature of 98.6 F (usually a LOT warmer).  Since reptiles take on the temperature of their surroundings, a bath that feels warm to you can turn quickly fatal as their core body temperature shoots up to dangerous levels.  Ideally you should use an IR temp gun to get an accurate temperature reading, but in a pinch use water that feels neutral or lukewarm over your wrist.  Also remember that even high temperatures that a desert dweller like your sand boa should be able to tolerate can be dangerous if they encounter them too quickly.  They might bask at 110F for brief periods of time, but a dunk in that water from room temperature could send them into thermal shock.  Be careful and use some common sense!
Lastly, while the soak will certainly help and is  a healthy practice anyway from time to time, a damp sponge and a little gentle, but persistent stroking and pinching motion with your fingers over his tail should do the trick very quickly.  It is very important to get those off since they'll restrict blood flow after a period of time and lead to necrosis and eventually sloughing of the tail tip.
As a fun fact, it was said for years that the many snakes in the wild seen with blunted tail tips must have narrowly escaped predators at some point in their lives.  While this is certainly one plausible scenario, it's been accepted that most have probably suffered the type of shedding issue you're describing.  Since it's an aesthetic flaw and not one likely to compromise reproductive success (i.e. the proclivity -- if there even is a genetic component -- has not been selected against), the phenomenon continues to persist even in wild populations.  Just one of the many fasinating insights into natural history gleaned from our ability to keep and observe snakes. - BJW

Source: http://www.iherp.com/Answers/ReptileProblem.aspx?Id=21915