Regarding Fecal Samples
Tortoises can contract parasites, often through contaminated food or newly introduced animals without quarantine. To detect parasites early, it's advisable to conduct a fecal examination every six months. In case of an infestation, I recommend examinations every 2-3 weeks over an extended period. This is because even after seemingly successful treatment, the animals can still be infected.
Why Collect Fecal Samples?
Parasites pose a constant threat to reptiles, affecting their health, stunting their growth, and in severe cases, leading to death. Reptiles often host various types of worms, coccidia, pinworms, flagellates, or amoebas. Some parasites are introduced through new animals to a population, while others enter through contaminated feed into previously healthy stocks.
A fecal sample analysis every six months helps monitor the health status of terrarium animals and initiate necessary treatments if required. However, it's wise to collect fecal samples when animals exhibit unusual behavior, such as lethargy, constipation, or diarrhea.
Collecting a Fecal Sample
It's ideal to use fresh feces for the sample, minimally contaminated with sand or substrates. These samples are placed with some water into special, hermetically sealable fecal tubes available in online shops (e.g., Amazon) or veterinary clinics. Since parasites or their developmental stages are not continuously excreted, it's advisable to collect multiple samples in one tube and keep it cool before sending it to a lab or handing it to a knowledgeable reptile veterinarian. For shipping samples by the pet owner, websites of specialized labs (e.g., Exomed) usually provide all necessary information. There, forms for the species, type of sample, and collection date can be downloaded and filled out.
A veterinarian can then decide if additional tests are advisable, especially if the tortoises have prolonged diarrhea. The result of the fecal sample is usually available within two to three days, often with recommendations for any necessary treatment. // Addition: This assumes Pancake Tortoises, so the season doesn't play a significant role. For tortoise species that hibernate, the fecal sample collection and possible treatment should occur "before" hibernation to prevent the spread of parasites during hibernation.
Fecal Examination Kits
I recommend the kits from M&S Reptiles and the esteemed laboratory EXOMED for the fecal sample. These kits contain everything needed for sample collection, along with detailed instructions explaining the process and timing of a fecal examination.
The examination of the sample is fully paid for by the kit. Your task is to fill the inner tube with a fresh fecal sample (at least one-third full), complete the preliminary report form, place it in the envelope, and then mail it. Within a few days, you will automatically receive a report and, if necessary, a suggestion for treatment. Outside of Germany, there should also be contact points in your area.
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