Follow Pearl, Malti & Bruce
By the time Bruce was rescued to me as an adult, Malti had been living with me for about two years.
During that time, I had made a LOT of mistakes in pretty much every area where a newbie tortoise owner can make a mistake.
But I was also working overtime to correct those mistakes and learn everything I could about caring for shelled beings. (I will be doing this for the rest of my life, and happily so).
So when Bruce did arrive, I had already heard the term “shell rot.” I knew that it could be caused by too-moist living conditions, shell injuries, and bacteria or fungi that invade the shell.
Of course, after racking up an impressive list of errors while raising Malti from a hatchling, I was determined that Bruce was never EVER going to get shell rot.
But then one day I went out to retrieve Bruce for his yard play time and noticed a small speck of blood on the shell scute nearest his neck. I immediately snapped zillions of pics and sent them to our vet for analysis.
Her diagnosis was that Bruce had been being Bruce, an active, curious, smart adult box turtle who liked to climb up the inside of the wire mesh walls of his outdoor habitat, sometimes tumbling down onto his back if he lost his grip prematurely (there was lots of soft dirt, leaf litter, and hay underneath him, but apparently it still wasn’t enough to prevent a shell injury).
Anyway, our vet said he had likely injured his shell during one of his climbing sessions. She told me to watch the injured area closely and see if it got better.
It did get better. It went from red to black to brown, and then he didn’t exhibit any sensitivity when I touched it, so we deemed it healed.
Then, not so long ago, I noticed that one of the scutes along the rear side area of his shell looked like it had come loose. Instead of sitting flat like the others, it kind of stuck up and seemed shorter than all the rest.
Once again, I snapped pics and sent them to our vet straightaway. The diagnosis….shell rot. Of course.
So here I learned that even when I am doing everything right as a box turtle mama, sometimes boys will be boys, regardless of species.
Luckily, this scute also cleared up on its own without any need for special medical intervention, although I know that is not always the case.